Today is Women's Equality Day and marks the 103rd anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. This important day celebrates the achievements of women’s rights activists (including my great-grandmother who marched for women's suffrage in New York in the early 1900's) and reminds us of the struggles that women still face including equal pay for equal work and top leadership roles.
According to the National Women's History Alliance, "At the behest of Representative Bella Abzug (D-NY), in 1971, the United States Congress designated August 26 as “Women’s Equality Day.” The date was selected to commemorate the 1920 certification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, granting women the right to vote. This was the culmination of a massive, peaceful civil rights movement by women that had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the world’s first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. The observance of Women’s Equality Day not only commemorates the passage of the 19th Amendment, but also calls attention to women’s continuing efforts toward full equality."
Today, to celebrate this important day, I invited Amy Diehl to return to my blog to continue our discussion about gender bias and gender equality. Amy has graciously appeared two previous times here on my blog, and links to those posts appear at the end of this post. Highlights of our discussion follow a brief introduction.
Dr. Amy Diehl is Chief Information Officer at Wilson College in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania and a gender equity researcher, speaker, and consultant. She is the author of Glass Walls: Shattering the Six Gender Bias Barriers Still Holding Women Back at Work. Her work has also been published in numerous scholarly journals, book chapters, and popular press including Harvard Business Review, Fast Company, and Ms. Magazine. Amy's links also appear at the end of this Q&A.
QUESTION: What led to your new book entitled, "GLASS WALLS: Shattering the Six Gender Bias Barriers Still Holding Women Back at Work," and what are some key takeaways you hope readers have?
AMY DIEHL: What led to this book is really the story of what led me to become a gender equity researcher. As a young information technology leader, I was running into strange barriers, like getting backlash when I acted in an authoritative manner. I was emulating the male leaders around me but not receiving the same level of respect that they received. For a long time, I took it personally, thinking I was at fault. Then I began to research gender barriers affecting women at work. I quickly realized that I was not alone in my experiences.
In 2014, I joined forces with Dr. Leanne Dzubinski from Biola University to study workplace gender bias. Our work has cumulated in our new book, Glass Walls. The main messages that I hope that readers take away are an understanding of gender barriers, and that women are not alone in their experiences of gender bias.
We say in the book that (unfortunately), “No woman is exempt from gender bias.” The other takeaway is that shattering the glass walls of gender bias is possible. We offer many specific strategies for leaders, allies, and individual women.
SHARE THIS: While no woman is exempt from gender bias, shattering the glass walls of gender bias IS possible. ~@amydiehl #WomensEqualityDay #DebbieLaskeysBlog
QUESTION: On your website, you feature something called "The Gender Bias Scale for Women Leaders." Can you provide an overview and why all women leaders should take a look?
(Check out the scale at this link: https://amy-diehl.com/gender-bias-scale/)
AMY DIEHL: The Gender Bias Scale for Women Leaders was developed by myself and Drs. Leanne Dzubinski, Amber Stephenson, and David Wang. We designed this scale for organizations to measure bias impacting women, across 15 specific factors. The results can be used to identify specific barriers prevalent within a group, department, or organization and apply interventions accordingly.
While the scale was not designed to be scored at an individual level, all women leaders can and should review the questions. Bias is often subtle and unconscious and built into regular institutional functioning. Reading the scale questions will help women recognize ways in which bias is impacting them, ways that they may not have ever realized.
QUESTION: According to an article published by the BBC entitled, "Why We Use Women’s Professional Titles Less Than Men’s," "Across many fields, women who have earned formal titles report that others neglect or dismiss these titles, or even condemn women’s claims to them." To see proof, we can look to the American First Lady to see how many people dismiss Dr. Jill Biden's title. So, how can we get gender parity when it comes to professional titles?
(Read the full article here: https://www.bbc.com/worklife/article/20210216-why-do-professional-titles-actually-matter?ocid=global_worklife_rss)
AMY DIEHL: Dr. Leanne Dzubinski and I wrote an article for Fast Company where we coined the terms for this form of bias: untitling and uncredentialing. We also cover this topic in our book.
Organizational leaders and those in the media must set the standards by ensuring that women’s titles and credentials are used in all settings in which men’s are used. Executives, managers, and allies can also reinforce use of titles with polite correction: “Yes, Dr. Jackson makes a good point.” If you are the person being untitled, it can be tricky to call it out. If you feel comfortable, you can say, “I would appreciate being called Dr. Diehl in public settings.” Or you can ask one or more colleagues to watch for untitling and reinforce proper use of your title.
And all of us should do our homework to learn people’s correct titles. If we are meeting with someone new, use their title unless or until they ask you to use their first name. Like other forms of gender bias, change is possible if all of us work together.
QUESTION: According to an article published by 19thNews entitled "Women Are Less Likely to Buy Electric Vehicles Than Men - Here's What's Holding Them Back," how can women overcome the gender gap in this scenario?
(Read the full article here: https://19thnews.org/2023/03/electric-vehicles-gender-gap/)
AMY DIEHL: A much better question would be this: How can the electric car industry overcome the gender gap? There are many reasons women are less likely than men to purchase electric cars, such as electric cars being stereotyped as men’s toys, their high price, and the need to have a home charging station, which is difficult for individuals who don’t own their own home.
But another reason stands out: the lack of safe, reliable, and convenient charging network. Charging a car takes much longer than filling it up with gas. Yet, the United States generally lacks chargers in places where they are safe and convenient. There should be fast chargers at every restaurant, convenience store, and shopping center, in addition to gas stations. And they should be in safe, well-lit areas with people around.
Walmart and Sam’s Club recently announced a massive expansion of fast-charging stations at their stores by 2030. Until the amount of time to charge is reduced and the network of charging stations is increased, women’s adoption of electric cars is likely to remain stagnant.
QUESTION: If you could dine with three women from history, corporate America, or your own family tree, who would you choose and why?
AMY DIEHL: Here are my three:
From history: American abolitionist Harriet Tubman: I remember writing a school paper about her as a child, and I was awed by her fortitude and bravery then, as I am now.
From corporate America: Former PepsiCo CEO and Chairperson Indra Nooyi: Among her many accomplishments was introducing Stayfree menstrual pads in India at a time when direct advertising of such products was banned. She devised a workaround, marketing the products to female college students.
From my family: My great-grandmother, Edna Ocker, was a wife and mother of 11 children during the 1900’s. I was fortunate to know her as a young child, but today, I would want to ask her many questions about her life and women’s roles in the early twentieth century.
As always, my sincere gratitude to Amy for sharing her insights about issues that impact us all.
Image Credit: President Barack Obama.
Connect with Amy at these links:
Links that were referenced in the above Q&A:
Book link: https://amy-diehl.com/glass-walls-shattering-the-six-gender-bias-barriers-still-holding-women-back-at-work/
Article in Fast Company: https://www.fastcompany.com/90596628/we-need-to-stop-untitling-and-uncredentialing-professional-women
Article re: Walmart & Sam’s Club: https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2023/04/06/leading-the-charge-walmart-announces-plan-to-expand-electric-vehicle-charging-network
Article re: Harriet Tubman: https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/harriet-tubman
Article re: Indra Nooyi: https://www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/indra-nooyi
AND FINALLY, links for two previous Q&A’s featuring Amy on this blog:
A Convo About Gender Bias to Recognize the Supreme Court's New Term
October 3, 2022
Good Leadership Is NOT Defined by Gender
March 25, 2022