Gender Equality - could divide and conquer be hurting our collective humanity

Updated: Apr 29

I recently read another story of a human being failing another human being in an allegation of sexual assault. In processing this, I felt compelled to open a dialogue between gender equality and collective humanity. I am sure that I am not the only person wondering how we went so very wrong.

I’ve spent my entire career working in male-dominated environments where I discovered some truths about gender equality that I found particularly alarming. Interestingly many will be thinking this relates to the treatment I have received from men when this is more frequently not the case at all. For me personally, these are not truths of men repeatedly making me feel unequal or unsupported as a woman in the workplace, even though I don’t deny this does, in fact, happen.

What alarmed me time and time again, was the lack of support other women gave women in the workplace. It so often felt like a dog-eat-dog world, filled with the stinging judgement that is frequently and openly projected, from one woman to another when things go pear-shaped.

It was almost as if women in these circumstances sometimes chose to distance themselves, to save themselves, over supporting another woman. It felt like an every-woman-for-themselves scenario. I found three was an alarming lack of empathy and a deep-rooted sign of femininity lost, which saddens me deeply as a woman. I say femininity purposefully because it feels like we have interchanged femininity with feminism and not in a good way. No to mention that somehow we have decided that femininity is a weakness.

Where did we go so far wrong that we decided the only way to save ourselves was to abandon another woman at a time when she needed us most? When did we decide that the only way to defend yourself as a woman was to step deeply into masculinity?

Women have incredible power to reclaim equality in workplaces, but instead of working to our strengths as women, we frequently become insecure and somehow feel compelled to become masculine in our approach. Why do we feel that being a woman isn’t enough?

In my career, I have discovered that I gained the most support and respect from colleagues when I was authentically a woman. This is also where I was most powerful in evoking change in my workplace and life in general. I am a woman, and I seek to be true to who I am, with the deeper understanding that above all, I am a human being and seek to support the collective humanity.

Is it possible that when we focus too deeply on specific gender equality that we lose sight of collective humanity? When instead we could focus on what unites us rather than what divides us.

So instead of divide and conquer, how about we unite and support all fellow human beings. One day it is likely that you will need to rely on this support yourself.

I have needed to fall back into the kind shoulder of humanity personally, and thankfully I’ve had the support I needed from both men and women alike. Just as I have been disappointed by men and women alike. Is it possible that it is a human problem, not a gender problem unless we choose to make it that way?

Mindfulness has helped me to understand the conditioning in my life, enabling me to reveal my shortcomings. Self-analysis and acceptance have paid off well in my life too, and I have had the great fortune to get clear on who I am authentically.

Today I share my experience and understanding, not to divide and conquer by gender, but for the purpose of the greater collective humanity.

Is it time to adjust our debate around gender equality to go beyond the symptom? Is it time to get to the root of the problem to foster a greater collective humanity?

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