By: Alexia Hilbertidou
At GirlBoss New Zealand our slogan is, “Only 2 per cent of NZX50 CEOs are women – we’re changing that”.
This fact ignited the ire of ‘Paul’, who this week took to the internet to inform me that “250,000 years of evolution made male and female distinctions”.
I’m not quite sure what he meant by this statement and what I was supposed to take from it. I imagined scenes from cave dwelling times. Did he mean that men were designed purely for hunting and grunting and women merely for mating and lactating?
Perhaps other ‘experts’ in the field of gender difference could enlighten me?
What I do know, is that these “evolutionary” differences do not impact our ability to communicate, make decisions, lead a team, work collaboratively – or any of the other attributes which make up the modern business leader.
Alan, too, thought he would chime in and share his insights on the gender issue by proclaiming that he “knows for a fact” that women in the New Zealand Police have been promoted based on gender, not ability “which doesn’t serve the community”.
Wow! This ‘fact’ is appalling. Is Police Commissioner Mike Bush aware of these infiltrators, who despite their lack of merit have been promoted to senior positions? If not, we must inform him, an official inquiry must get underway. With women leading the police, our community is surely at risk of demise!
I hope police officers like Waitemata District Commander Tusha Penny are not within earshot of Alan. A Maori woman, mother, and police officer for the past 25 years with management experience in the area of child protection and sexual violence, I challenge you to find anyone more capable, qualified, or “able to serve the community” than Tusha.
Rather than feeling threatened by feminism and believing they have something to lose when women win, some men are down with the movement.
Men like Vend Founder, Vaughan Rowsell, who refuses to speak on panels without female representation. Or, ex All Black, John Kirwan, who works tirelessly to reduce depression by breaking down the macho culture in NZ which labels men who express their feelings ‘sissies’ (Note the feminine nature of ‘sissy’ – because, of course, nothing proves your weakness more than being compared to a woman).
In the same way that men working in ‘caring’ roles such as nursing or teaching, or who are the primary caregiver of children, should not face prejudice, women too, have the right to be outraged when so called experts, like my friend Paul, claim women are not ‘wired’ for logic-based tasks.
Meta studies show that individual differences between brains are much larger than any group difference between men and women. Behavioural norms are a result of the society and culture we grow up in. Hence, we see that in countries like Malaysia where there is no concept of computer science being a masculine field current female participation in computer science courses is actually greater than male.
Our gender does not determine our brain structure, what tasks and jobs we are good at, or who we are.
My mother takes two hours to sew a button, doesn’t own an iron and has (thankfully) only cooked twice in six months (sorry mum, but the burnt sausage rolls were pretty bad). This is all a non-issue for my stepdad (a tradesman) who is delighted that he can leave the financial planning, help with maths homework and bill payments to her while he gets on with the cooking, which he enjoys and is good at.
Allowing people the freedom to be their authentic selves, without prejudice, will reduce our depression rates, create a safer society and allow more people to fulfil their potential.
It’s frankly pretty sad that this conversation still needs to happen and it shouldn’t be up to us ‘young ones’ to sort it all out.
Paul, Alan, how can you help?
This article has been published with permission from Alexia.
The mission of GirlBoss New Zealand is to inspire, empower and equip New Zealand girls to develop their STEM (Science, Technology Engineering and Maths), leadership and entrepreneurial skills in order to become the change makers of the future. Visit the website or find them on Facebook here.