International Women’s Day isn’t just about celebrating women. It’s also about challenging norms. As such, I challenge you to read this piece without flinching.
Across the world, groups are celebrating #InternationalWomensDay and they're engaging and mobilizing their communities to #ChoooseToChallenge— Women's Day (@womensday) March 8, 2021
Head over to 👉🏾 https://t.co/nYW9foRZMW#IWD2021 pic.twitter.com/RzsGWGoJ4E
In many respects, women have it tougher than men.
Is it really that awful to admit—without apology?
The evidence is there. One need only look at the disproportionate impact of the pandemic on women to see the gender disparity. Part of it comes down to tradition, and part of it comes down to our wiring.
A recent survey conducted by Compliance Week and Skillsoft found the No. 1 difficulty of remote work cited by women during the pandemic was “lack of separation between work and home life.” Why? Women are more frequently the ones making up the difference while childcare and schools have been unavailable. This reality is especially true for single working parents—you know the type. The colleague who sometimes misses collaboration, decision making, and bonding because he/she must help their kid with homework. Have you ever judged him/her (more frequently, her) for signing off early? If you haven’t, someone else in your office has.
Now, women, here’s another hard truth: We also bring these norms on ourselves. We berate ourselves. We worry. Men do it too; they just don’t dither as much.
I couldn’t help but observe patterns in my classroom of 12-year-olds when I was a middle school teacher. If I posed a question to the class, the girls would pause, mentally work out their answer, and then slowly let their hand drift up. Boys’ hands shot up instantly. When called on, the boys would sometimes say: “Wait … what was the question?” The male mantra seems to be act first, worry later—or not at all. It must be very freeing.
Having said that, we must recognize the amazing, multitasking, trailblazing women who make up about half of the Compliance Week audience. For two years running, our “Inside the Mind of the CCO” survey found more females than males identified as either CCOs or CECOs. Female thought leaders in compliance, Mary Shirley and Lisa Fine, channeled their careers into giving voice to female compliance officers and helping female rising stars. Businesses are realizing that empathy and soft skills, attributes traditionally associated with women, culturally matter.
So, on International Women’s Day, I want women to challenge themselves. Don’t resign yourself to second fiddle. And don’t resent the men. Pull up a chair, let your ideas be heard, and don’t apologize. It’s what a man would do.