Monday, October 3, 2022

A Convo About Gender Bias to Recognize the Supreme Court's New Term


Today is a significant day in American jurisprudence. For those of us who follow the Supreme Court and are advocates for gender equality, today, the first Monday in October, is a day to celebrate. The Supreme Court begins its new yearly term today, and a new face joins the Court: Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson. So, in recognition, I welcome Amy Diehl back to my blog for a Q&A discussion about leadership, gender bias, and gender equality.

Amy Diehl, Ph.D. is Chief Information Officer at Wilson College and a gender bias expert, researcher, and consultant. She’s a sought-after speaker for conferences, workshops, guest lectures, and panels. Her work has been published in academic journals and book chapters as well as in business and popular press, including Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Ms. Magazine. She is currently co-authoring a book on gender bias, due on bookstore shelves and online in 2023. Connect and follow on Twitter @amydiehl and on LinkedIn at

QUESTION: Since we last spoke, there have been momentous changes regarding the US Supreme Court, including the addition of the first African-American woman to the Court and the repeal of Roe vs. Wade. Can you please comment on these two changes?

AMY DIEHL: The addition of Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson is momentous and historic as she will be the first Black woman to serve on the Court. With her broad and diverse background, she brings a new perspective to the Court, which will be exciting to learn from her thinking and watch her influence the creation of fairer and more just American society. I am also excited about the new ways in which she will serve as a role model and inspiration, especially to Black girls.

That said, the Supreme Court recently sent US society back centuries with the repeal of Roe v. Wade. By allowing states to ban and restrict abortion, the Court is denying more than half of society control of their own bodies and future livelihoods. The goal of repealing Roe has never been to save babies; it has always been to control women.

There are a great number of initiatives that could reduce the need for abortion, such as better sex education, easier access to contraception, and after-birth supports like paid family leave, affordable childcare, etc. But the states that are implementing abortion restrictions have shown little interest in such measures. The underlying goal of the Court’s decision is to force women back into subservient roles in the home and keep them out of public life.

QUESTION: We cannot talk about the Supreme Court without mentioning the colossal loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, so what is your favorite RBG quote, and why?

AMY DIEHL: There are so many to pick from! I’ll go with this one: “Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn't be that women are the exception.” This quote is a reminder that women should not be the exception on boards, teams, and leadership. We must not think: “Okay, we’ve got Justice Ketanji Brown Jackson on the Supreme Court. Our diversity and inclusion work is done.”  

Justice Ginsburg was also asked how many women on the Supreme Court would be enough. Her response: “When there are nine.” She continued, “Nine men was a satisfactory number until 1981.” Women should be the norm - not the exception - in all places where decisions are made.

Read more by RBG:
QUESTION: Due to your extensive research and writing about gender equality, gender bias, and the workplace, I’d like to raise the issue about what has previously been men-only activities, such as, golf outings, after-hour bar hopping, etc. These activities are created by men for men, which result in fewer opportunities for women’s participation, which ultimately impact women’s promotions. What are your thoughts?

AMY DIEHL: Dr. Leanne Dzubinski and I write about this problem of exclusion in our forthcoming book Gender Bias in the Workplace. Women are routinely left out of informal social events, like going to the bar or playing golf. While some women may want to take part in these activities and are not invited, others have no interest, whether invited or not. And when any workplace social events are scheduled after-hours, people with caretaking responsibilities are often left out.

The solution is for people to stop doing work during after-hours socializing. Men need to set boundaries to stop themselves from discussing work and making decisions when not all stakeholders are present. An easy way to stop a conversation is to redirect it, “Hey, let’s discuss this on Monday morning and include Jessie and Anastasia.” Equally as important is to ensure drinking and golfing buddies are not given a leg up on promotions. Evaluate people solely on their workplace performance and not on their attendance at social events.

TWEET THIS: Men need to set boundaries to stop themselves from discussing work and making decisions when not all stakeholders are present. ~@amydiehl #genderequality #DebbieLaskeysBlog


TWEET THIS: Evaluate people solely on their workplace performance and not on their attendance at social events. ~@amydiehl #genderequality #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: On a related topic, former Vice President Mike Pence has said that he won’t be alone with women without his wife present. How should women deal with this type of situation if is ever encountered?

AMY DIEHL: This “Pence” rule originated as the “Billy Graham rule” in the late 1940’s. Graham, the famous evangelist, pledged to not travel, meet, or eat alone with a woman other than his wife Ruth. Behind this rule is a view of women as sexual tempters.

As we discuss in Gender Bias in the Workplace, this ‘glass partition’ is another way women are kept out of the public sphere and away from areas of professional influence. The rule also inhibits cross-gender professional mentoring which is useful for everyone. Women are literally shunned when men, via this rule, refuse to work with them.

Overcoming this can be difficult because women may not always recognize when it is happening. Leaders must take the initiative with expectations that men and women work together and by setting the example themselves. Women who encounter this should raise with their bosses and coworkers and ask to be included. Describing the impact to your job can be helpful: “I am unable to promote business development when I am excluded from travel.”

Here's more about the Bill Graham rule:

And here are two posts on this issue:

QUESTION: You wrote an article for the Harvard Business Review in March 2022, entitled, “Research: How Bias Against Women Persists in Female-Dominated Workplaces.” In it, you wrote, “Gender equity isn’t just about representation. We need to terminate gender bias at its root by fixing our organizations to make them inclusive, flexible, supportive, and equitable to women.” How can we do this?

AMY DIEHL: One of the most effective ways to create gender equitable and inclusive environments is to replace intra-office competition with collaboration. Make sure you are incentivizing and rewarding cooperation in which colleagues help each other out. Another way is to provide flexible and remote work options for your staff. Don’t measure performance by time in an office chair. Give people the goals and then let them choose the best way to accomplish them. Drs. Amber Stephenson, Leanne Dzubinski and I give many other tips for how to create equitable workplaces in our Harvard Business Review article.

Here's the link:

TWEET THIS: One of the most effective ways to create gender equitable and inclusive environments is to replace intra-office competition with collaboration.  ~@amydiehl #genderequality #DebbieLaskeysBlog


TWEET THIS: Give people the goals and then let them choose the best way to accomplish them. ~@amydiehl #genderequality #DebbieLaskeysBlog

QUESTION: You have a new book coming out in 2023 entitled, GENDER BIAS IN THE WORKPLACE: BREAKING DOWN THE SIX BARRIERS HOLDING WOMEN BACK. Can you briefly discuss the six barriers and share how you can break them down?

AMY DIEHL: Dr. Leanne Dzubinski and I are so excited to bring this book to readers. It will help leaders, allies, and individual woman learn how to “break down” gender bias in two ways. First, we break down gender bias by explaining the six barriers and their subcomponents. These barriers are male privilege, disproportionate constraints, insufficient support, devaluation, and hostility which lead to women’s acquiescence. In the book we tell stories of women who have experienced these barriers. Second, we provide strategies that leaders, allies, and women themselves can use to break down and eliminate each aspect of gender bias. We expect the book release in Spring 2023.

For more information and to subscribe for updates about the book, visit

My gratitude to Amy for appearing here on my blog and sharing her inspiring perspective about leadership, the workplace, and gender equality - and the work that remains to be done to achieve full gender equality!

Image Credit: Jackie Hope via Unsplash.

Check out my first Q&A featuring Amy back in March of 2022:
"Good Leadership Is NOT Defined By Gender"

For more info about the Supreme Court, visit:

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