I’ve attended seminars in various things in my career, but the recent trend is toward softskills like allyship, accessibility and diversity, and unconscious bias.
Anyone who knows me that I’m not a huge fan of International Women’s Day because it just feels gross that we have to have a day dedicated to it. Like if we all just make a good effort on 1/365th of the year, then we’ve done our due dilligence and we can feel proud of our accomplishments. Not so, peeps. Not so.
I know, I know, not everyone considers it a one-and-done, but some people do. Everyone has a blind spot, no matter how amazing a job you think you’re doing. So let’s unpackage this a bit, shall we?
I saw a picture on the feed of a fitness blog a few days ago that showed two women: one was slender and buff, with a chic white pixie haircut, wearing a tank top deadlifting a stacked barbell. The other was a softer looking woman with flossy gray hair and wearing a house frock, sitting in a chair looking out a window. The messaging said, “Both of these women are 75. You choose which one you want to be.”
And I immediately thought, “ZOMG! BUFF GRANDMA!” The goal of the picture was to say that observing the world is less desirable than grabbing it by the b… uh.. Barbells. The woman in the chair was to be pitied because she was less than. And I caught myself. Yes, fitness is important, but maybe Window Watching Grandma has a great garden and plays poker and drinks pints with her friends every Friday night an then attends a yoga class every Saturday morning. And maybe Buff Grandma spends all her time alone in the gym worrying about how many calories are in the cupcake that she’s never going to eat.
So yeah, they hooked me hard on the Age bias.
I’m a woman of a certain age (read: perimenopausal) who goes to the gym at least 3 times a week and is pretty purposeful about what I eat , but I’m still overweight. And when I go to the health clinic, they look at me pitifully and attribute everything from dry skin to headaches to bruising easily to either my weight or my age. So I feel other’s biases, too.
The theme of this year’s International Women’s Day is Break the Bias.
I’m looking at the missions that International Women’s Day is using to help shine a light on ways to celebrate achievement and call out inequality, and I feel like several of them hit pretty close to home: Building workplaces where women thrive, Elevating the visibility of women in creative careers, improving equality for women in tech, supporting women to pursue goals, celebrate women who are making changes in technology and sustainability, and empowering women’s choices in health.
Pretty compelling stuff, for sure.
But the thing about bias is, it can be unconscious. And if you don’t know it’s there, how do you even see into that blindspot?
I’m reading a few articles today about how to identify bias so that I can think about my own blind spots. Because you don’t know, what you don’t know.
I’ve created landing pages for the last 3 years of Lent Project. You can access them from the Reflections Projects option in the menu bar. Happy reading, friends!