Today is International Women’s Day, where we appreciate the significant contributions that women have made to the world. We literally wouldn’t be here without ’em.
I’d like to propose that instead of just celebrating the historical contributions that women have made, we take today – just today* – to lift up women you encounter in public, at work, and at home.
I’m a feminist, but like all women (and men), I have decades (and generations) of bias that I carry around with me. If you have other suggestions for what you can do to support women, please leave them in the comments.
1. Let Women Finish
Studies have shown that in the workplace, men talk more than women. That means that women have a fricken’ lifetime of being interrupted.
Whether you’re a woman or a man, just let women finish their whole thoughts today.
Men, I hear ya already: “But women interrupt me all the time!”
Well, we have our own annoying habits, but the fact is that that men actually interrupt women more often (in that study, 46 out of 48 interruptions were done by men!).
For today, I would like to propose that whether you’re a woman or a man, do not interrupt any woman in the middle of her thought today, for any reason, even if she interrupted you first.
2. Buy a book written by a woman
More than half of the books on the NYT Best Seller List are written by men (read the study).
But this isn’t just about market preference. There’s a bias in the publishing industry.
“In 2011, inspired by VIDA, Ruth Franklin at the New Republic did a small-scale analysis of the upcoming catalogs of 13 publishing houses. Franklin found that 11 of the 13 publishers, including Harper, Norton, Little Brown, Knopf and FSG, had heavily male biased catalogs — around 30% or less of their books were written by women. The Huffington Post followed her study up in 2012 with similar findings of widespread gender bias.” – Bias, She Wrote
Books written by women have a harder time of even making it to market. So support women’s books today by buying a book written by women.
Here’s a list of 100 must-read classics by women!
3. Talk about them behind their backs
Women are less likely to get recognition at work, receive challenging projects, and get promotions according to this study. If you’d like to see the fancy info-graphic version, plus a big evaluation of the study, the Wall Street Journal did an excellent piece on the subject.
This could be because women have less confidence than men.
We have a real problem speaking up for our own accomplishments, and when we do, “women are judged more harshly than men if they come across as bragging, despite the fact that men brag three times as much.” (“Bragging Rights: Why Women Don’t Talk Themselves Up and How to Do It Effectively“)
It’s a catch 22: if we don’t talk about our accomplishments, we get overlooked for promotions. If we do talk about our own accomplishments, people judge us harshly for bragging.
How can you help? Talk about other women behind their backs. Talk about how resourceful, responsible, and challenge-ready an individual woman you work with is. Talk about how you noticed they should be considered for a promotion, can handle bigger projects, and are really kicking ass at their job.
4. Don’t talk about their appearance
I think we can all agree that talking shit about a woman’s (or anyone’s appearance, for that matter) is bad. Women, men… please let’s not talk shit.
But how often do we say, “You look beautiful!” or “You’ve lost weight!”, when what we really mean is, “I admire your presence in the world!”? When we compliment women on their appearance, we’re saying that their appearance is what matters. And yeah, appearance matters, but it’s almost the only compliments women receive. This gives the false impression that appearance matters more than other qualities, like personality, sense of humor, companionship, confidence, trustworthiness, and all-around bossness.
Today, when you want to compliment a woman, compliment her on something other than her appearance. This article has a ton of suggestions on how to do that.
5. Repeat their ideas (and give credit)
Studies have shown that women’s voices are just not heard. We need your help to amplify our voices.
Repeat our ideas, quote us in talks, and cite our research. Quote women in your articles and call out our intelligent contributions to meetings.
I could go on, but I am driving to Sacramento to show up on the steps of the state capital.
Visit my Facebook post calling for ideas and submit yours there (trolls will be mentally executed and blocked).
If you’re a developer, install the blind-review add-on so your pull requests are anonymously reviewed.
Again, please feel free to leave comments below about how to support women!
* Please feel free to extend these practices to every day, but I don’t want to push.