I started to write the following for an Inc. article, but decided it was too controversial.
Women, Men, and Equality?
Diversity in teams tends to create better outcomes. Why is it missing in some places?
This topic ends up being controversial, though I don’t think it should. I feel equality is important to write about, especially in business and entrepreneurship.
July saw harassment scandals in Silicon Valley, which prompted stories such as An Open Letter to Chris Sacca, Dave McClure, Travis Kalanick, and All of Silicon Valley. There are also recent articles such as Women Entrepreneurs: Yes, You Are Underserved and Here is Why The World Needs More Women Entrepreneurs. The New York Times recently published Why Women Aren’t C.E.O.s, According to Women Who Almost Were.
These articles and many like them suggest ways to change industries and business to promote more women in them. You will find no one who values and supports equality more than me, but I suggest that supporting one group is not the same as promoting equality.
I searched Inc.com for the word “women.” The first page returned articles that were favorable or helpful to women, such as 3 Ways to Find, Attract, and Hire Remarkably Successful Women and Flybridge Recruits Female Founders to Run Women-Only Venture Capital Fund.
Some described problems with systems or, depending on how you read them, men, such as Why Microsoft and other Companies Aren’t Just Hiring Women to Address the Gender Gap and Are Things Getting Better for Women in Tech?.
Compare with the results searching for “men.” My top result was about a comic-book character: Three Lessons Entrepreneurs Can Learn From ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming’.
I saw no articles favorable or helpful to men. On the contrary, several were negative to men or were about women, such as Even Powerful Women Struggle to Speak Up in a Meeting Full of Men. Here’s How to Overcome That, How ‘Wonder Woman’ Can Change the Way Men Think (for the Better), and Are Men Subconsciously Contributing to Sexism in the Workplace?.
Does the mainstream think men are more trouble than we’re worth?
Are women better than men?
Any one of the articles on women and men on its own seems fair. I’d like to see more women entrepreneurs, for example. I’d like to see things better for women in tech.
But the trend seems clear. There aren’t as many favorable or helpful articles for men. Many are mean to men.
I’d like to see more entrepreneurs in general, not just women, so while I’m glad to see people address problems that women uniquely face, the population of male entrepreneurs doesn’t reflect the population of men. In other words, men face biases too and just because some men succeed doesn’t mean it’s easy for other men or men in general. Many things hard for women can be yet harder for many men, for whom life may be yet harder without depriving them of advantages because they are men.
If a man faces biases, should we not help him because he’s male? If some men have advantages, does that mean all men do, just for being male?
Though not an exactly parallel, consider appearance. Many complain that women are judged by their appearances. Leaving aside that many men are, short men in particular are strongly judged by their appearances, especially by women.
I’d like to see things better for men in tech too, including ones who don’t get a chance and then don’t get support because other men succeed. I feel like a headline like “Are Things Getting Better for Men in Tech” would get eye rolls or even attacks. But I remember tech being brutal to everyone, not just women. Do we only want to improve it in some ways?
Are we working for equality?
Next I searched the web. I typed “gender studies” into Duckduckgo.com. While not scientific research, the results seem illustrative and far from promoting equality.
Most of the results were university gender studies departments, nowhere close to sexual equality.
The first, UCLA, showed 16 core faculty members, of which 1 appeared male, going by first names. The next, UMSL, showed only women. The next, NCF, listed its course offerings. The course names referenced women, mothers, and female terms 8 times, male terms only once. The next, Wheaton, listed courses that mentioned female terms 8 times, male zero. The next, MIT, listed courses that mentioned female terms 19 times, male five.
Passing to another category in the responses, Amazon returned a list of books under gender studies. The authors in that list’s first page included 17 women and 2 men.
If we value diversity and when we lack it in technology and entrepreneurship, we call for changes to the fields, where are the calls for changes to invite more men into gender studies?
Would diversity not help in the field?
What percentage of men feel comfortable pursuing a degree or job in gender studies?
If the solution in technology and entrepreneurship is to change the fields and men’s behavior, what solutions do people propose for gender studies and women’s behavior, if any?
I searched Duckduckgo.com for “men in gender studies” and the top two results were about women, supporting women. The next link put down a young man who tried to enter the field of gender studies at the London School of Economics and reported receiving anti-male discrimination. The link after that one was that young man’s rebuttal, suggesting systemic inequality in the field.
The link after that one was an opinion piece in Inside Higher Ed, Teaching Gender Studies to Straight Men. Its author told how she tricked students into taking her course:
How I got a group of straight male college freshmen to take a course on gender, sex and sexuality is simple: I didn’t tell them the topic before they signed up.
Leaving the ethics of this apparent baiting and switching aside, she concluded by saying about gender and women’s studies courses:
These programs were developed in part to bring about social change. But if gender programs want to transform outdated gender norms and reduce sexism, they need to welcome straight men into their classrooms.
After dozens of articles and posts, I seem to have found a voice seeking equality, not just helping one group.
How about promoting equality, not just one group?
I humbly suggest that if we aim toward equality and diversity specifically, not just helping one group, we’ll increase our chances of achieving it.
Read my weekly newsletter
On initiative, leadership, the environment, and burpees