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Farah Nasser: This International Women’s Day, let’s talk about men

Farah Nasser writes that women are speaking up as a collective and challenging views that are deeply embedded in the psyches of many men.
Farah Nasser writes that women are speaking up as a collective and challenging views that are deeply embedded in the psyches of many men. AP Photo/Mark Lennihan

We’ve come a long way baby! Since International Women’s Day 2017 we’ve seen men in powerful positions held accountable for their inappropriate actions. Through the #metoo revolution, we’ve seen women revisit painful memories and bravely speak out so that their daughters aren’t victims. We’ve witnessed real social change.

COMMENTARY: Tearing down the barriers for women entering politics

Even though it’s called International Women’s Day, this movement is just as much about men and specifically shedding the “us vs. them” mentality. For a lot of men, there seems to be a subconscious inequality that exists. Where you may no longer see catcalling, you may still see women’s ideas being ignored at work. It’s likely unintentional and it won’t change overnight.

International Women’s Day marches around the world
International Women’s Day marches around the world

WATCH ABOVE: International Women’s Day marches around the world

The Harvard Business Review pointed to a case from a couple years ago about a woman named Ellen Pao who lost a wrongful dismissal case against her former venture capital firm. Pao pointed to instances of subtle gender bias, like always being asked to take notes in a meeting and “feeling pressured to balance assertiveness with warmth because of her gender.” The journal says the outcome of Pao’s case is consistent with other discrimination cases where “only overt and intentional forms of bias” see a different result.

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Still, it’s gradually becoming more common for a woman to lead a company, lead in politics, or act as the primary breadwinner.

And suddenly, women are speaking up as a collective. We are challenging views that are deeply embedded in the psyches of many men.

READ MORE: Canadian women’s empowerment in the workforce leads International Women’s Day

Men need to start digging deep and thinking about asking themselves questions about the role they play in the workplace. Do you value a male colleague’s work more than that of a female colleague without even realizing it? Do you cut off women in meetings? Do you talk over them? Is there a structural gender imbalance in your organization? Do you pay attention more when it’s a male co-worker who has come up with the idea? Do you see your male colleague as assertive rather than aggressive? Would you consider the same behavior from a female colleague to be bitchy? Again, you might not even know you are doing it.

READ MORE: McDonald’s flips arches to honour International Women’s Day — but it backfires

In the past six months we’ve seen a seismic shift, but according to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, we won’t be seeing gender parity for more than 200 years. That is far too long to wait, but in the meantime, we should be making our best effort to equal the playing field and stop tolerating subtle behaviors that regard women as second-class.

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Yes, we have come a long way but men we need you standing next to us for the rest of the journey.

Award-winning journalist Farah Nasser is anchor of Global News at 5:30 & 6 p.m.