In the past week I travelled a lot to give talks, attend a workshop and have meetings. You would think that this is rather normal for a business owner running their business. As a female the questions I receive are quite interesting, here are a selection of them:
Do you have any children? – Hmm, not sure what that has got to do with me and my business and not convinced it is essential for them to know.
What does your husband think of it? – Well again I personally feel that something like this is a rather inappropriate question and none of their business. As it turns out my partner (we both chose not to marry for our own reasons) is very supportive of me, my travels and my business. That is why we have a great relationship.
Only after traditional thinking people are satisfied with my answers do they go into asking about my business mode and what we do?! I bet, no male business owner get’s these things served as first questions, because everyone in the traditional mindset will assume their wife will deal with all those things. Unless we challenge boys club business thinking, it will never really change.
In a few business meetings Andrzej (who works for me) attended together with me, the meetings happened to be all with men. The default position was they then talked to the man in the meeting, unwittingly dismissing the owner of the company. Now, to be totally honest it didn’t bother me deeply, because in the end of the day I won the meetings in the first place, the potential of doing business is there no matter what and the business negotiation will be with me because as the owner I want to have control over those important items. Maybe there should be an ‘ignore the female owner tax’ on top of the fees though :-).
Joking aside, it made Andrzej uncomfortable and conscious about the fact that the counterparts we were meeting were doing that and I guess for the most part they were unconsciously doing it. It didn’t seem obvious to me, until after we spoke. It is business as usual. But I do experience a lot of challenge when dealing in the technology world with techies who consider women to be lesser technically astute.
In terms of inclusive design thinking, raising awareness about bias is the first step and sharing how that feels to create empathy may or may not land well, providing the first next steps to be consciously inclusive is important. I know myself that it is challenging to do this all of the time and in biased male dominated environments even the female default is to join the same bias. Being inclusive is a daily and even minute by minute choice. Whether it is on gender, age, origin, or other random differences, it takes courage to consciously choose inclusion every single time.
So my feminine gamification challenge for you is to spot your personal bias when dealing with women, older or younger aged people, different backgrounds etc and when you notice your bias, opt for inclusive by design.
Let me know how you get on… I would love to hear your stories.