Experts at Davos: "It is in men’s interest to embrace gender equality"
Here are five points from the World Economic Forum at Davos that can help men and women work together for gender equality.
Teodora Zareva is an entrepreneur, writer, board games geek and a curious person at large. Her professional path has taken her from filmmaking and photography to writing, TEDx organizing, teaching, and social entrepreneurship. She has lived and worked in the U.S. and Bulgaria and is currently doing her MBA at Saïd Business School at the University of Oxford. Her biggest passion lies at the intersection of media and youth development. She is the co-founder of WishBOX Foundation, a Bulgarian NGO that helps high school students with their professional orientation by organizing events, courses, summer camps and developing digital media resources.
Yesterday, at the World Economic Forum taking place in Davos, panelists discussed the measures that need to be taken to stop sexual harassment and how not to lose the momentum generated by the #metoo movement.
Joanne Lipman, Editor in Chief of USA Today and author of the book That's What She Said: What Men Need to Know (and Women Need to Tell Them) About Working Together, pointed out that while every woman knows what it feels like to be marginalized, interrupted, underestimated, or disrespected, these issues for years have only been discussed amongst women. Lipman insists that if we want to close the gender gap, we need to bring men into the conversation.
Gary Barker, President and CEO of Promundo agreed. For 20 years Promundo has worked in over 40 countries around the world to promote gender justice and prevent violence by engaging men and boys in partnership with women and girls.
According to Barker, not enough is being done to engage men and particularly to show how the movement is relevant to them. He says that men also suffer from the stereotypical image of manhood and that men who live a more equitable version of it are healthier and happier.
“We have a stake in it, not only because it is right for women and girls and the world, but because it also allows men to be what they want to be. It is in men’s interest to embrace gender equality," Barker says.
Lipman adds that there are many men who would like to be part of the conversation but have been left out by women or by their lack of knowledge of the issues. However, once men are educated, they are typically willing to make a change. Here are five points from the panel that can benefit every workplace and relationship.
Lipman gives an example with the problem of interruption, where even Supreme Court justices are three times more likely to be interrupted if they are women. She also cites the creator of several popular TV shows, who noticed that the ideas women pitch in the writer’s room were not coming through, exactly because they were being interrupted by men. He introduced a new rule of no interruptions during pitches, which increased the number of accepted ideas pitched by women.
What's with the tears?
Another example Lipman gives are the differences in the way men and women communicate that often lead to misunderstandings. Women cry more often than men, but contrary to what men believe it is not due to hurt feelings but out of anger and frustration. Acknowledging this and addressing the cause of anger is a better solution than avoiding conflict with women out of the belief that it will hurt their feelings.
Expect paternity leave
Research shows that another reason why men are hesitant to take active part in the gender equality movement is fear. Of the men Lipman has interviewed, 74% say they are afraid of losing status amongst other men, a problem that needs to be solved at a cultural level as well as in the workplace, where managers need to make clear they expect men to take parental leave, for example.
What is manhood?
A study done by Promundo amongst 18- to 30-year-old men from the US, UK and Mexico found that 1 in 5 to 1 in 3 has carried out some kind of harassing or bullying behavior against women, girls or other men in the last month. Neither education, nor income, nor ethnicity were predictive of the results. The only thing that mattered was the level of belief men had in the stereotypical version of manhood, in which they expect themselves to be in charge and act as the tough guy.
Early childhood influence
Unconscious biases and cultural norms that create the stereotypical images of men and women exhibit their influence from early childhood. Lipman points out that mothers of infants routinely overestimate how quickly their sons learn how to crawl and underestimate that for their daughters. Google searches asking, “Is my child a genius?” are 2.5 times more likely to refer to a boy rather than a girl.
Biases persist in school as well, even though teachers are mostly female. When math tests of first graders were graded anonymously girls outscored the boys. The opposite happened when the names were left on.
Similar tendencies are noticed later in life. In college a girl needs to get an A in order to be perceived at the same level as a boy with a B. At work men are seen as 2.5 times more competent than their female counterparts.
“Sexual harassment is a symptom of gender inequality," says Barker, "and if we only focus on the men in top positions we’ve missed the point. We need to do the whole package—adequate reporting, protection of women who come forth, and also go upstream and have conversations with our sons."
Lipman concludes by saying:
“The number one thing that we can do is make sure that we have men who are engaged in leadership. It is simply not enough for a leader of a company or any organization to offload this on to the HR department or anywhere else. It has to come from the top and it has to set the culture of any organization and that’s how we will affect real change."
Watch the full panel discussion below:
What do we see from watching birds move across the country?
- A total of eight billion birds migrate across the U.S. in the fall.
- The birds who migrate to the tropics fair better than the birds who winter in the U.S.
- Conservationists can arguably use these numbers to encourage the development of better habitats in the U.S., especially if temperatures begin to vary in the south.
The migration of birds — and we didn't even used to know that birds migrated; we assumed they hibernated; the modern understanding of bird migration was established when a white stork landed in a German village with an arrow from Central Africa through its neck in 1822 — draws us in the direction of having an understanding of the world. A bird is here and then travels somewhere else. Where does it go? It's a variation on the poetic refrain from The Catcher in the Rye. Where do the ducks go? How many are out there? What might it encounter along the way?
While there is a yearly bird count conducted every Christmas by amateur bird watchers across the country done in conjunction with The Audubon Society, the Cornell Lab of Ornithology recently released the results of a study that actually go some way towards answering heretofore abstract questions: every fall, as per cloud computing and 143 weather radar stations, four billion birds migrate into the United States from Canada and four billion more head south to the tropics.
"In the spring," the lead author Adriaan Dokter noted, "3.5 billion birds cross back into the U.S. from points south, and 2.6 billion birds return to Canada across the northern U.S. border."
In other words: the birds who went three to four times further than the birds staying in the U.S. faired better than the birds who stayed in the U.S. Why?
Part of the answer could be very well be what you might hear from a conservationist — only with numbers to back it up: the U.S. isn't built for birds. As Ken Rosenberg, the other co-author of the study, notes: "Birds wintering in the U.S. may have more habitat disturbances and more buildings to crash into, and they might not be adapted for that."
The other option is that birds lay more offspring in the U.S. than those who fly south for the winter.
What does observing eight billion birds mean in practice? To give myself a counterpoint to those numbers, I drove out to the Joppa Flats Education Center in Northern Massachusetts. The Center is a building that sits at the entrance to the Parker River National Wildlife Refuge and overlooks the Merrimack River, which is what I climbed the stairs up to the observation deck to see.
Once there, I paused. I took a breath. I listened. I looked out into the distance. Tiny flecks Of Bonaparte's Gulls drew small white lines across the length of the river and the wave of the grass toward a nearby city. What appeared to be flecks of double-crested cormorants made their way to the sea. A telescope downstairs enabled me to watch small gull-like birds make their way along the edges of the river, quietly pecking away at food just beneath the surface of the water. This was the experience of watching maybe half a dozen birds over fifteen-to-twenty minutes, which only served to drive home the scale of birds studied.
Explore how alcohol affects your brain, from the first sip at the bar to life-long drinking habits.
- Alcohol is the world's most popular drug and has been a part of human culture for at least 9,000 years.
- Alcohol's effects on the brain range from temporarily limiting mental activity to sustained brain damage, depending on levels consumed and frequency of use.
- Understanding how alcohol affects your brain can help you determine what drinking habits are best for you.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx a team of DNA sequencers has figured that out.
- A team at UMass Amherst recently sequenced the genome of the Canadian lynx.
- It's part of a project intending to sequence the genome of every vertebrate in the world.
- Conservationists interested in the Canadian lynx have a new tool to work with.
If you want to know what makes a Canadian lynx a Canadian lynx, I can now—as of this month—point you directly to the DNA of a Canadian lynx, and say, "That's what makes a lynx a lynx." The genome was sequenced by a team at UMass Amherst, and it's one of 15 animals whose genomes have been sequenced by the Vertebrate Genomes Project, whose stated goal is to sequence the genome of all 66,000 vertebrate species in the world.
Sequencing the genome of a particular species of an animal is important in terms of preserving genetic diversity. Future generations don't necessarily have to worry about our memory of the Canadian Lynx warping the way hearsay warped perception a long time ago.
Artwork: Guillaume le Clerc / Wikimedia Commons
13th-century fantastical depiction of an elephant.
It is easy to see how one can look at 66,000 genomic sequences stored away as being the analogous equivalent of the Svalbard Global Seed Vault. It is a potential tool for future conservationists.
But what are the practicalities of sequencing the genome of a lynx beyond engaging with broad bioethical questions? As the animal's habitat shrinks and Earth warms, the Canadian lynx is demonstrating less genetic diversity. Cross-breeding with bobcats in some portions of the lynx's habitat also represents a challenge to the lynx's genetic makeup. The two themselves are also linked: warming climates could drive Canadian lynxes to cross-breed with bobcats.
John Organ, chief of the U.S. Geological Survey's Cooperative Fish and Wildlife units, said to MassLive that the results of the sequencing "can help us look at land conservation strategies to help maintain lynx on the landscape."
What does DNA have to do with land conservation strategies? Consider the fact that the food found in a landscape, the toxins found in a landscape, or the exposure to drugs can have an impact on genetic activity. That potential change can be transmitted down the generative line. If you know exactly how a lynx's DNA is impacted by something, then the environment they occupy can be fine-tuned to meet the needs of the lynx and any other creature that happens to inhabit that particular portion of the earth.
Given that the Trump administration is considering withdrawing protection for the Canadian lynx, a move that caught scientists by surprise, it is worth having as much information on hand as possible for those who have an interest in preserving the health of this creature—all the way down to the building blocks of a lynx's life.
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