This past Wednesday was International Women’s Day. In conjunction, many women participated in a “Day Without Women” protest.
I know in the age of social media, we’ve already moved on to the next big thing. The articles are written, all the tweets are twitten. But I wanted to take a minute to give a guy’s opinion. Oh, and by the way, this is meant for the guys out there. Women, feel free to skip this post. You know this already.
It honestly feels a bit odd to write about this. As a guy, it’s easy for me to fall into one of three camps, 1) the good intentioned, but misguided mansplainer, 2) the troll asking why we don’t have a ‘Day Without Men’, or 3) the silent ally.
The first group feels like they’re doing good by jumping out in front of the movement and proclaiming what women should do. It’s hard to fault these guys, but it’s patronizing and implies that women don’t have the ability or autonomy to act and think independently. And while it may feel good, I’m not sure if it actually helps.
We can skip right over the second category.
I happen to think there’s a whole lot more to the third category than we’d like to admit. This group supports the Day Without Women cause. They’re 100% behind their colleagues striking and nod in agreement during happy hour when the issues of women’s rights and gender equality come up. These are ‘the good guys’, but these are the guys that don’t do anything. They’re not blocking the movement, but they’re not advancing it either.
Here’s the catch…I don’t want to belong to any of those groups.
I want to be more than that. The silent allies have no skin in the game. They have no voice.
Here’s my little chance to speak out. To take just a little risk by writing about what I saw. It’s not much, but it’s better than sitting on my butt doing nothing.
A Day Without Women..
I woke up Wednesday not realizing that there was a women’s strike about to happen. Only after checking my social media feed did I remember.
To give some background, my department consists of three men and three women (one of which is my boss). A few weeks ago, my boss told us she was participating in the strike and all of the women were encouraged to participate as well.
So Wednesday came, and while my boss did in fact take the day to protest, neither of the other two women did. They both had work responsibilities that needed to be attended to right away. One took part of the day, but the other worked a full day. Another women who used to be on our team was also working that day.
I came home and talked to my wife. She’s a Product Manager at another software company. It was a completely normal day at her office. All of the women were still working. Coincidentally, she had one meeting that consisted of all women. This is just one example of how vital women are at her company.
Do I think the women on my team didn’t take the day off because they’re overworked or put upon? No. I think they went to work because they know their contributions are important and they were needed at their jobs that day. But it’s what another Tasktop woman said to me that provided a fresh perspective.
She told me that she worked, not because she didn’t agree with the strike, but because she feels supported here. She feels that our company has been good to her, supports women’s equality and needed her that day.
Some of my women colleagues who worked that day, supported the strike in different ways—wrote blogs, refrained from using their purchasing power that day and/or contributed to organizations that fight for women’s rights.
It was interesting for me to hear. Multiple women at Tasktop with strong convictions about women’s equality taking different paths all leading to the same gender equality goal.
Can’t be done
Because I’m a 40 year old male, this type of social issue is not typically at the forefront of my thoughts. I thought we were pretty much past this. Obviously, I was wrong. Before the International Women’s Day, my company sent out a request for employees to answer the question “Why do you feel having women at Tasktop and/or in STEM is important/positive?” You can see some of the replies in the subsequent blog post The Importance of Women in STEM. When I opened that email, I’ll be honest, I thought it was a bit silly. Why? Because I couldn’t imagine that anyone wouldn’t know that women are a valuable part of the workforce. Silly because I couldn’t believe that there are people out there who think the US economy could survive if the workforce reverted back to what it looked like in the 1950’s.
The simple answer is that Tasktop would not be as successful without women. And it’s not because they’re women. It’s because they’re smart, talented, and driven people. It’s because they’re the right people for the job. Full stop.
It seems to me that limiting yourself and your company to half the workforce, half the world, is simply a very bad idea. Women at Tasktop have designed our product, they’ve built our product, they’ve marketed our product and they’ve sold our product.
So while I didn’t march on March 8th, or take the day off, I’ll be doing my best from now on to be more than a silent ally.