A Foreword by Joe Dudeck: For the past year, I’ve had the honor of working with Camryn Walton on many Keyhole Marketing projects. She does much of the behind-the-scenes work, and, if you’ve been coming here for awhile and reading the content, you already know a little bit about her by the quality of work she produces.
She and I recently had a conversation around gender equality in the workplace. As the son of a mother who always worked and the husband of a wife who has always worked, I thought I had a pretty good handle on the subject. Women should be treated and afforded the same rights as men. It just wasn’t an issue for me. And yet, I also knew that there was much I didn’t know about the subject because there was much I hadn’t experienced in the workplace simply because I was a man. And more than that, even if it wasn’t an issue for me, it was still an issue for someone.
To get better informed, I needed to hear—not from the media or politicians on the subject—but directly from the other side of the gender fence. And so I asked Camryn to share her thoughts.
I hope her piece below inspires, frustrates, surprises, challenges, or insights some emotion within you. Because only through an attentive interest in the subject of gender equality can you move from observation to activation. And only then can our kids enter a workforce devoid of these discriminations.
Thank you, Camryn, for starting the conversation here.
I was recently given a “the future is female” sticker, and my emotional reaction was confusing. I wanted to say, “hell yeah” and put it front and center on my laptop. But I hesitated. And maybe cringed a little? (Apologies in advance to my fellow nasty women reading this, but stick with me.) I struggle over how I feel about this phrase. Part of me LOVES it. Part of me questions it.
Why can’t the future be human?
I’m glad you asked. Because in 2017, women entrepreneurs are being sexually harassed while trying to start their companies. Each year, 62 million girls are denied access to education. And the economic pillar of the gender gap is now larger than at any other point since 2008.
Despite the work of powerful feminists throughout time–Amelia Earhart, Eleanor Roosevelt, Maya Angelou, Hillary Clinton, and RBG, just to name a few–women are not equal to men.
And that is unfortunate. Frustrating. Gut-wrenching. Wrong. That is why we need to keep talking about it. That is why we should slap “the future is female” stickers all over our belongings. That is why we should use our words and our actions as catalysts for positive change. And that is why we need to exchange stories with our friends, families, loved ones, those who you may disagree with, and most importantly: future generations.
It’s easy to find negativity surrounding gender (in)equality floating around on the interwebs. Instead, I would rather celebrate and learn from those who are dominating the conversation with inclusive and productive dialogue.
Here’s a snapshot of the the individuals and organizations who have captured my attention by leading the charge to a more inclusive community:
There’s that phrase again: The Future is Female. But when I see it this time, I can’t help but smile. How could you not when looking at the lineup on that cover? This entire edition was created by women — from the models, to the writers, to the editors, designers and printers. The feature honors women who have advanced and challenged the outdoor world through leadership, innovation and athletic feats.
She Explores is a website and podcast for inquisitive women in the outdoors, on the road and besides. The creator and host, Gale Straub, doesn’t shy away from asking the hard questions during her interviews. As a result, real discussion is had, and often around uncomfortable topics.
In Episode 13: Diversity, Beyond the Buzzword, Gale takes a step back and poses the question, “But why do the outdoors lack diversity?” I think this question oftentimes gets overlooked in all areas of the gender equality conversation. Instead of jumping into discussion about how to make (fill in the blank) more inclusive, shouldn’t we first understand why it isn’t currently inclusive?
In a follow-up episode, Complicating the Narrative, Gale explores what it would look like to rethink some of the “rah rah” language used around women in the outdoors and instead focus more on listening to individual stories and what we can learn from them. (More on that below.)
For those of you who don’t know, Joe publishes an awesome interview series on the Keyhole blog talking to entrepreneurs about the plot twist in their story that led them to start their business. Eleven of the past 19 interviews have been with women—including the most recent conversation. Yep, that’s over 50 percent. But when you ask Joe about it, he admits that he isn’t intentional about the gender of his interviewees. He shrugs and says, “I know a lot of cool women.” More on this answer later…but in the meantime, thank you Joe. We think you’re cool too.
Dialogue around gender equality in the tech world is a hot topic right now. Tech giants like Apple, Facebook, Microsoft and Salesforce have pledged millions of dollars towards closing the pay gap. But a more notable action is Salesforce’s hire of its new CEO—the Chief Equality Officer, that is. Tony Prophet is pioneering the charge for equality at Salesforce, ensuring that his team understands the importance of transparency, acceptance and equality. Read on for a deeper dive into the shift at Salesforce that has already taken place.
If we take a step back from our lives in the U.S. and zoom out to a more global perspective, the definition of gender equality focuses less on the pay gap and recognition, and more on healthcare, education and basic women’s rights. While the status quo may still be unacceptable, there is a long-term global trend that is pointed positively towards gender equality.
Who am I missing? This is such a small snippet from my corner of the world… but I want to hear from you. Who else is out there fighting the good fight? I want to know you, talk to you, interview you, write about you.
You may be thinking, “Thanks Camryn, now I’m feeling all warm and fuzzy about gender equality. What next?”
I’m glad you asked. If nothing else, I hope I’ve started a conversation. I believe that the best way to become comfortable with uncomfortable topics is by creating opportunities for productive dialogue… dialogue then triggers action… action that promotes positive and respectful behaviors… behaviors that prioritize equality and inclusion at the forefront of our decisions.
I have some takeaways on these behaviors, too:
Did you know men hold 77 percent of government offices in the U.S.? Men are making many of the gender-based decisions affecting women’s rights. Men also dominate what we hear and read in the media about gender equality, as present day newsrooms are 2/3 male. As we work toward a more inclusive society, men need to be included in the conversation just as much as women (if not more).
Don’t lump all women into one group and assume they’ve experienced the same things. Generalization is never the best course of action. Instead, ask questions. Listen. Be aware of each other’s differences.
“There are so many other facets of identity that we all hold, and I wanted to complicate the narrative because we don’t as women have a monolithic perspective or experience.”
I was raised in a family of four sisters and one brother. The women in my life outnumber the men five to two. I’m so grateful that the “issue” of women’s rights was a non-issue in my family and the place where I grew up. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? For women to be 100 percent equal to men, so that gender equality is a non-issue?
But then I went to college and have been working in tech for the past three years. I quickly realized that outside of my bubble gender equality is an issue, and it affects each individual person differently. I now view this entire conversation as a spectrum. On one end, we’ve got organizations dedicating an entire issue of their magazine to women to bring more in-your-face attention to the subject. On the other end, we’ve got low-key feminists like Joe here at Keyhole Marketing who surrounds himself with strong women and chooses his interviewees because of their accomplishments, not their gender.
One of my mentors recently told me: “Not knowing what to do is not an excuse for not doing anything.” This couldn’t apply more strongly here. The most important thing we can all do is find our voice in this conversation, find our place in this spectrum, and commit to learning and growing in this space. Until gender equality truly becomes a “non-issue.”
I’m a writer. So I will continue to research, interview, read and write about this topic…with “the future is female” sticker proudly displayed on my laptop.
Follow along as Joe and I continue to explore this space. We’re going to talk to other women (and men) about their take on the conversation, and provide additional resources on how you can share your voice and find your place on the spectrum.