Sidelining men doesn't help gender equality
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It's reassuring to know the word 'women' in the title of this publication doesn't completely scare off the men.
Our male audience isn't huge (just 2% according to a survey of our readership by Effective Measure), but based on Women's Agenda-related social media activity and those leaving comments on some of the stories we've published, it's a 2% that's highly engaged with issues affecting women in the workplace.
This week we've published four male bylines -- all of whom were enthusiastic about sharing their work on the site.
It's clear some men want to participate in the debate about gender equality, as well as the conversation regarding how women can advance their careers. Men are not attracted to the topic in large numbers, but then us ladies don't always make it easy for them to get involved. We're particularly good at creating women-specific networks, seminars and events for women, special groups for women in large organizations and, yes, publications with the word 'women' in their name. We're good at this because for so long it's what we've had to do in order to group and connect with like-minded individuals, to share our challenges, and to access opportunities from each other.
Progress for women in the workforce can only go so far if we continue to stick to our own and sideline men from the debate, whether we do it unintentionally or not.
Thankfully, more of us are seeing the benefit of gender diversity for debating issues regarding women's workforce participation.
We only need look at some of the work Sex Discrimination Commissioner Liz Broderick is achieving with her Male Champions of Change to see how better engaging both genders in the conversation will help.
We can also look at the increasing number of events with 'women' in their name attracting male speakers and delegates.
Last week, I attended part of the Sustaining Women in Business conference in Melbourne where a healthy portion of presenters were male, including conference chair Troy Roderick. There was also a scattering of men on the delegate list. One told me he'd been invited to attend by his employer and jumped at the opportunity. He said he found the more personal sessions -- those that offered practical career and wellbeing-related advice -- useful in not only helping him appreciate some of the unique challenges women face, but also in picking up some tips for overcoming his own challenges too.
Sustaining women in business is not a women's issue, it's a business issue.
And "having it all" is not an ambition for women alone, but one plenty of men are chasing too. Women just happen to talk about it more often -- and perhaps feel more comfortable in expressing the struggle and feelings of guilt associated with balancing work, kids, health, friends and family.
New legislation currently before the Senate will see the Equal Opportunity for Women in the Workplace Agency renamed the Workplace Gender Equality Agency.
It's a telling point that the word "women" is missing from the new name, ultimately showing a shift that gender equality is not about women alone.
We need men in this debate and we should embrace the opportunity to include them at every point. We need men if we hope to make flexible working arrangements the norm, if we want to get real about balancing work and life, and if we want women to advance to the leadership positions they deserve.
We need to establish clubs that are not "for boys" and not "for girls" but rather for like-minded individuals from both genders who can share a diverse range of thinking and ideas.
At some point in the future, we may no longer need women's networking groups, events and publications.
But until then we should welcome and celebrate the men involved in these debates.
Ladies, be kind to a gentleman this weekend. Thank him for doing his bit for gender equality and for making the workplace a more inclusive one for women.
And gentlemen, keep up the good work.