Friday, March 8, 2013

International Women's Day

March 8 commemorates International Women's Day, first observed in 1911. EQUALS views IWD as not just a day to celebrate women, but also a day to "to ask ourselves big, important questions about how a woman’s life really compares to that of a man’s." Sheryl Sandberg's TED talk discusses this phenomenon in the context of leadership. Some of her comments are based on an experiment conducted by Francis Flynn. Flynn gave some of his students a copy of the Harvard Business Review Case, "Heidi Roizen" about the silicon valley venture capitalist. Other students were given the same case, but Heidi was changed to Howard. Otherwise, the details were identical. Students who read about "Howard" found him likable while those who read the actual case about Heidi found her selfish. Women experience similar penalties when displaying emotions at work compared to male colleagues. Sometimes, my undergraduates claim that there isn't sexism or racism anymore, and I am glad that their experiences thus far have made them feel equal, but I also know that they will likely face obstacles just because of their gender or race. I can't imagine what it is like for women in countries where there are even fewer protections. That's why I value IWD.

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