“Go and ask Dad”, I said. She stood there with her tousled gorgeous curly hair, hair straightener in one hand, other hand firmly planted on her hip. To cut a very long story short, visiting fox terrier, Eddie, had gnawed his way through Sylvia’s hair straightener cord, so she had been given this one as a replacement.
Only problem was that it had a UK plug on it.
“Go and ask Dad” I said again – mainly because I really didn’t feel like having to find the screwdriver, explain to her how the colours worked and fiddling with that silly awkward silicon top that they insist on using on plugs here. (Aparently Google only gave her answers like “is it legal to rewire plugs?”)
BUT – then it hit me. Here I was implying that her father (male!) would do a better job at teaching her how to rewire a plug better than I (female!) could. Simply because it was convenient for me to slot nicely into this paradigm. What am I teaching my 13 and 15-year-old daughters?
Now don’t let my track record fool you. Yes I have been known to sever the cord from a hedge trimmer in one swipe while trimming the lavender, that story provided enough fuel for my engineer husband’s safety share on Monday morning…. but I digress!
Diversity and gender equity is getting a lot of attention these days. I am doing research with high level women in several countries about the beliefs that they have around themselves and others.
You see – it’s the beliefs that we hold, sometimes because it’s convenient – that also hold us back. Sometimes it’s handy to give an excuse outside of us so we don’t have to do something.
I didn’t really feel like stopping what I was doing to help Sylvia – being the one to show her how to change a plug, so used the gender stereotype to get out of it.
Sometimes it’s easier to pass the buck, with an excuse that is culturally acceptable. I wonder how many stereotypes around women are used by both sexes, because it’s convenient?
I was quite shocked at my own experience – especially when I’m really passionate about individuals being the very best they can be, regardless whether they are male or female.
This week I’m going to be thinking about where I am tempted to use stereotypes as justification for my own actions. Would you like to do the same? Let me know where you have caught yourself saying something that doesn’t actually fit with where you want to go, I love to hear from you.
Enjoy the rest of your Chooseday!
Ps: If you would like me to run a focus group with women in your office on the topic of diversity, I’m looking for some anecdotal commentary on the gender gap and what we can do to progress even further in this area – so am looking for some research volunteers – if you’re in Perth, then we can meet face to face, if you’re elsewhere, then Skype is wonderful way we can still meet face-to-face! Email me, I’d love to hear from you.