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Overcoming Gender Bias

Gender-bias is alive and well as described in a recent article in the arts section of the NY Times. It discussed the reasons why women are not getting as many plays produced as men. There were some ob...

Gender-bias is alive and well as described in a recent article in the arts section of the NY Times. It discussed the reasons why women are not getting as many plays produced as men. There were some obvious things, such as men are more prolific, which is not a surprise given the more propensity of men to be more goal-driven and action-oriented. What was disconcerting was that the study showed that women’s plays that were produced were superior in terms of economic prospects and potential audience ratings than those of men. Unfortunately, the discrimination against women’s plays came more frequently from women! Men rated women’s and men’s plays exactly the same way, while women rated women more harshly.

Why would this be? Women know from the time that they are born that they are considered to be a disappointment and a “second class” citizen. Women fight to be considered as good as men and they often do it by rising up into their ranks and rejecting the “lower class” of being female. It is common for a woman to say, “I really would rather work with men than women,” or “I would prefer the company of men.” What they are really saying is, “I’m not part of that inferior group; I have crawled my way out of the trenches to be one of the elite.”

There is no doubt that women have a tougher time having their work acknowledged than men, regardless of the field… after all, men hold the power in the system, and humans naturally gravitate to those in power. There are a few things that we can do:

1) We can band together and support one another outside the system, as the blacks did in the ‘60s. I have made a conscious effort to attend functions organized by women to network with them as it validates me as a woman and reinforces my resolve that we have much to offer, by expressing who we are.

2) We can make a conscious effort to support other women. Let’s start by attending plays they have written and saying only positive things; there will be many critics quite willing to call down their work. We don’t need to add to that.

3) We can value female attributes. If we believe in ourselves so will others. PersonallyFree Web Content, I take every opportunity to call attention to the fact that the companies that are outperforming in the current recession have more women in senior positions. There are good reasons to hire and promote more women – we just need to keep reminding everyone. Does anyone have any other ideas to help us overcome gender bias?

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After a highly successful career in business, including 26 years with PotashCorp where she was Senior Vice-President, Betty-Ann retired in 2007, the same year that she was named to Canada‘s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame™. She now works as a speaker, author and mentor and is committed to using her personal and professional experiences to inspire and empower other women.  A firm believer in the value women bring to organizations, Betty-Ann explores changing perceptions of male and female roles including candid observations about what she calls "Good Gender Physics” on her blog at She helps both men and women understand the primary energy of their gender but also accept and appreciate the strengths of their opposite.

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