Friday, March 09, 2007

Did you know March 8 is International Women's Day?

Yes, it may seem a silly question. Yes, it may seem a poor heading for a post. And yes, it may have been more appropriate to have this up yesterday or the day before. But something odd happened to me at a Toastmasters meeting yesterday - and its worth a blog post.

Yesterday was International Women's Day 2007. Every year on March 8:

"...International Women's Day (IWD) is the global day connecting all women around the world and inspiring them to achieve their full potential. IWD celebrates the collective power of women past, present and future."
In some ways, it surprises me is there is not more notice given this day - at least in the US. In other ways, it's not so surprising. Our male dominant culture - dare I say sexist - often times views recognition of women's power as threatening? insignificant? propaganda?

What got me thinking about empowering women - again? still? - was a posting by Frank Sennett - a Spokane blogger. Last month he put up a good summary of his newspaper story at Women in the Blogosphere. The full story can be found here. To summarize, reports and stats may say the "Men continue to dominate the blogosphere's most prominent real estate" but he share's pretty convincing evidence that ain't the case! And I certainly find myself reading and interacting with terrific blogs written by women.

Then I stumbled onto Shawns post at The Good, The Bad, and The Green. WOW! Here is a guy can put his own journey in perspective. Read it if you dare!

Which leads me to the question posed during Table Topics. TT is a portion of the standard Toastmaster meeting where you are given a couple minutes to speak extemporaneously. Its a nervous time even for accomplished and confident speakers. Think on your feet and try to speak:) The Topic Master queries - "Bob, what is the one stereotype of women you most often hold?"

Can you say adrenaline rush? or heart pounding horror? I took a deep breath. Imagine a schoolyard filled with women. Each woman represents a male held stereotype - fickle, flighty, moody, weak, object, trophy, maid, domineering, emotional - you get the idea. Throw a rock into the yard and whoever it hits - I am guilty of holding that stereotype. Let me stress, its not about guilt. I'm a male in a sexist culture. Its about recognizing biases. Must have struck a chord because I won the award for Best Table Topics! (I sure was shaking!)

I celebrate the uniqueness of each individual and the wonder of gender differences. But this is about equality and recognizing we ain't there yet. Every day we have the chance to get closer. Thanks for allowing me the chance to jump on my podium.


Shawn said...

Wow, great post. Incredible answer. And thanks for the props.

Shawn said...

Oh, and I should say, since I haven't said yet, that I didn't see one story covering this on I now wish I had ventured over to the BBC to see if they covered it.

BobG said...

Thanks to you too, Woz - part of my point - nobody "said" (wrote/covered/reported) anything - at least main stream - about the day.

Sandy Renshaw said...

Hi Bob,

Thanks for a great post! I didn't know it was International Women's Day. Interesting that it escaped our attention! It would be fun to see what the BBC said.

Appreciate your sharing about TT. We all hold stereotypes but don't always recognize them.

BobG said...

Thanks Sandy - always a pleasure to hear from you.

My post was linked by a journalist in Chicago - a nice surprise - and my guess would be BBC covered it a bit better. We had a column in our paper this morning. It was dedicated to last Thursdays breakfast.

To me, our stereotypes and biases are like the layers on an onion...or the many curtains on a stage. Until we start peeling them back...we never know what we'll find.