Women Just Want to be Treated the Same--Don't Make it a Thing
By Jen Mahoney, vice president of customer success at SmartBear
The new year has shed new light on modern feminism, calling women to feel inspired and encouraged.
Modern feminism is a revelation that continues to unravel before us, changing the game for women in the workplace and finally giving a voice that people have stifled far too long. As a woman in technology, I feel more protected and empowered, but I also feel concerned.
Don't get me wrong—I am beyond proud of the #metoo movement victims for using their voices, and I fully support #timesup, too. But I want to make sure that we don't alienate ourselves in the workplace by enabling a culture where men gravitate away from working with women out of paranoia. In the past month, I have had to have open conversations with concerned, male colleagues that want to do the right thing by women but fear at the same time that one wrong move could be detrimental.
Men have come to me with concerns about this topic, wanting to discuss it and understand how to handle it. Recently, a colleague came to me with a concern, saying, "I take Joe to lunch all the time to talk about the business, but don't feel comfortable taking Sally." My message is unwavering: Women just want to be treated the same. Don't make it a thing. But the reality is, it is a "thing." Now, more than ever, the stakes are high for men to make smart decisions, and if they don't, women no longer need to stay silent.
In my career, men have always outnumbered me. In technology, the concentration of women is still small in relation to the industry's growing size, and the number of women in tech management positions, in particular, has been growing, but at a slow rate. The shift is happening, and many tech company leaders continue to embrace diversity in the workplace—mine included. Diversity inclusion efforts feels inspiring—not just for me, but for all women in technology.
When establishing diversity feels challenging, I remind myself that this isn't just my story, and it won't end with me. People will continue to tell this story as we get even closer to a more diversified, gender-balanced workplace. Sheryl Sandberg, chief operating officer at Facebook, said, "We stand on the shoulders of the women who came before us—women who had to fight for the rights that we now take for granted." Amen, Sheryl.
Even still, there are many challenges facing women today. There is still a gender gap, a wage gap, and a general sense of "feminist paranoia" that plagues the workplace and makes us all uncomfortable. We need to communicate with each other and understand both sides to avoid going backward and to push forward. At the end of the day, this is not just about women and men establishing ground rules but enabling social normalcy and success together.