Gender equity, equal rights, or women’s equality – whatever you call the issue, I don’t think I’m stretching too far to say that the progress we’ve made so far has been driven primarily by and for women.
Women drive the conversation and champion the cause. But as we try to figure out what it’s going to take to see the next great wave of progress, we know that it’s going to take more help from men raise awareness and help make sure gender inequality finally disappears for good.
The problem is, most men simply don’t care about these issues. It’s not that they disagree, they’re just indifferent.
So this is where I turn to the guys and ask – why DON’T you care? Here are a few reasons I could think of:
1. You don’t realize that there’s an unconscious bias
And that would be fair, a lot of women don’t even really realize there’s a bias. But take a look at this article from Time magazine. Transgender men (women who have transitioned to men) have come to discover just how bad it is. “They had no idea how rough women at work had it until they transitioned. As soon as they came out as men, they found their missteps minimized and their successes amplified…They seemed to gain authority and professional respect overnight.”
You also probably don’t realize the experiences and worries that women carry with them.
2. You think that we’ve made already made great progress
And that it’s not really an issue anymore. Yes, we have made great strides. Less than 200 years ago, women got the right to own property in their own names. Almost 100 years ago, women achieved the right to vote. And in 1974, single women were finally able to get access to their very own credit cards!
But I mean, c’mon guys. We’re still not paid equally—not even close. And let’s be real, this basic civil rights progress we’ve made hasn’t really infused itself into the rest of society. It wasn’t until 1993 that marital rape became illegal. And if the trends continue this way, women may not get equal pay until 2050. (By the way, let’s not even talk about paid parental leave.)
3. You don’t think women want your help
But we do (or at least we should)! Real change can’t happen without buy-in from everyone. It doesn’t do us any good if men don’t join in the conversation. Then we’re just talking to ourselves. Now, I’m not saying there aren’t men who are advocating for equal rights and gender equality – there definitely are. There just aren’t enough of them.
If we want progress and change, we need everyone’s support, not just those who are directly affected. And since only 19% of the seats in Congress are taken up by women, we’ve never had a woman president, there’s never been a majority of female representation on the Supreme Court and only 4% of Fortune 500 Company CEOs are women— yeah, we could use a little help.
4. Maybe you do care, but don’t know what to do about it
If that’s the case, here’s my advice: First, educate yourself on the biases and make a conscious effort to not let them affect your decisions. Next, don’t be afraid to share your thoughts. Attend a few women’s equality events, serve on a panel, or just be an advocate for a woman in your office. We need all the voices we can get.
On the surface, I get it. These issues don’t directly affect you. But we really shouldn’t have to plea with you to stop being so apathetic. Think about it: You have mothers, wives, sisters, girlfriends, aunts, grandmothers, and friends—all who are affected by this. You don’t have to care about the “issues,” but you should at least care about the people you love whose livelihood is affected.
And even if you don’t care for them, you should at least care for the future and progress of this country. I hope you do, because we need your voice and your support. As Jane Goodall said, “The greatest danger to our future is apathy.”