Celebrating Women's History Month this March.
I recently had a conversation regarding a new work assignment I have been placed in that will require me to work in a male-dominated environment. I expressed that I speculated it could have been an intentional business move to place a woman in that position rather than one of my male colleagues. That, perhaps, some of my naturally more feminine characteristics would help to balance out the room full of testosterone.
Knowing that I am an advocate for workplace equality, he asked me if this felt like exploitation at all. I considered this and then decided that no, it did not.
Here is why. Equality does not mean an absence of differences.
The truth is we are different. There are hundreds of books, movie plot lines, seminars and blogs written about this very topic. To say that my unique strengths and feminine attributes are true of all women is like saying that one size shoe should fit all. This simply is not a reality, and too often, I think that a lot of the aforementioned materials try to paint the differences in men and women out this way. Women are good communicators, while men are more analytical. Women are more hospitable, and men are more methodical. The polar opposite of this argument is that we are all exactly the same—that there are no differences between how men and women think and react to social situations. I don’t buy into that either.
What I do buy into is that having a balance of men and women working together on any given project is going to give you better results than just having one or the other. I think that we do inherently see some things differently, face different challenges and social norms and, therefore, bring a different perspective to the table. I do not shy away from embracing these differences. Being a woman is a part of my identity, and I would be disillusioned to think that this does not carry into every aspect of my life, both personally and professionally.
As Ann mentioned in her recent blog post, I am privileged to stand on the shoulders of the women who have come before me, who paved the way and gave me the opportunity to thrive. I am thankful for a world that recognizes these strengths and celebrates femininity in the workplace and elsewhere. Being confident in who I am as a woman and the unique strengths that I bring to the table, I will continue forging the path for the next generation—for my little sister, for our future daughters.
I will continue to seek an equality that is not confined to sameness but celebrates differences.