Hello dear “We Are Sisters Stories” Community,
I am delighted to introduce myself as the guest blogger for this wonderful blog for the coming five weeks. I was asked to write for the blog as I am doing research on gender equality at the University of Exeter under the supervision of Dr. Teri Kirby and Prof. Michelle Ryan, known for her eminent research on the gender glass cliff (to be discussed in one of my blog posts!). I started my PhD in September 2015 after completing my Research Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology at the University of Groningen and the University of Cambridge, and I am now investigating how to make the workplace a more even playing field for men and women. Unlike a lot of previous research, I am not exploring what women can do to achieve this (see for instance “Lean In” by Sheryl Sandberg). Instead, I am focusing on men’s contribution to approaching gender equality in the workplace. Men still occupy the majority of power positions, which –in a slightly ironic manner—makes their contribution to achieving gender equality extremely valuable. Research in this area is important as previous results have shown that not only women, but also men and even their children, benefit from a more egalitarian society.
I distinctly remember the first time I ever thought about gender equality during my time at high school: I was watching a talk show about the prevalence of gender inequality and the need for the feminist movement. I was shocked that gender equality hadn’t been achieved yet. I grew up in a gender equal household—I have just as many memories of my Dad at the stove as I have of my Mom in the office. I’ve always been more ambitious than many boys around me. I perceived my chances in life to be just as good as anyone else’s. Little did I know – the upcoming years were to be filled with revelations. For example, the boys that were as ambitious as me were well-liked and praised just that little bit more than me. When taking the lead in situations, others repeatedly accused me of being “way too bossy”. I discovered websites that ask women not to take “men’s jobs”. And, a male friend once told me he never cries because “boys just shouldn’t”.
In short, I discovered a world outside of my little protected bubble that I wish didn’t exist: A world where sexism is real and pervasive. My research has since shown me that myriads of research support these revelations. They are by no means isolated cases. Women still get paid less than men. Many women do not feel safe going out at night. Even in supposedly “advanced” countries women don’t have the right to control their own bodies (e.g. anti-abortion lobby in Ireland). Men that show feelings are regarded as weak. Over time I became more passionate about fighting for gender equality and am very lucky that I am now in a position where I can contribute to tackling gender inequality through my own research. I believe that it is essential to set an example against incidences of sexism and to show that we do not agree with (neither blatant nor subtle) practices that sustain inequality, which is why I am such a big fan of “We Are Sister Stories”.
I have followed this beautiful blog for some time and enjoyed each one of the previous blog posts, despite the oftentimes rather sad content. I admired the previous writers’ skills to tell their stories with such eloquence and mesmerizing words. Writing my own contributions, I noticed that they differ slightly from previous pieces. Despite their more academic nature they will nevertheless fit the overall agenda of the blog to initiate healthy discussion around the topic of gender equality. I hope that you will enjoy my contribution to this blog and female empowerment within the coming weeks. If you would like to read similar articles in the future, find out more about my own research, or would like to receive video, article, and book suggestions surrounding gender equality, please visit my homepage www.antoniasudkaemper.com or find me on twitter @ASudkaemper.
I am wishing you all the best—certainly a lot of gender equality—for the year of 2016, and am looking forward to your thoughts on my contributions!
All the best,
Read Antonia’s blog posts on the following statements:
(4) “I think the whole gender equality issue is essentially a non-discussion, because the beauty of gender lies in the fact that they’re not equal (but opposite), yin and yang as the basis of nature, and anyone who denies that must be out of his mind.”