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How can we bring about true gender equality?

One sad truth that leapt out at me from this talk is the power-gap between genders. Amy Cuddy mentioned how male MBA students participate in the classroom with power poses and female MBA students don't. She mentioned how this illuminates the underlying power-differential between genders in the MBA class.

I would posit that this power-differential extends beyond the MBA classes and can be found everywhere. Regardless of whether it exists universally or just in MBA classes, I find it disappointing that even in this modern day and age of supposed gender equality, we have evidence that that women feel powerless and men don't.

So, I ask:
1) What are your thoughts on the root causes of this?
2) Do you believe it is something we should change?
3) Do you believe it is something we can change?
4) What will it take to bring about true gender equality?

Go ahead! Change the world in 2000 chrs or less!

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    Gail .

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    Jan 6 2013: I don't see gender equality coming into play for as long as religion exists.
  • Jan 30 2013: First, you have to be clear on what you mean by true gender equality. You haven't really defined what that means. It is hard to reach a goal if you don't know where it is.

    I think you are incorrect about men not feeling powerless. It is true that it is mostly men that hold positions of power, but you must realize that for 99% of men those are other men.
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    Jan 19 2013: Here's my response in the form of poetry
  • Jan 7 2013: 1. I think there will always be a physical power difference between men and women, and this feeling of power superiority/inferiority at a basic level will manifest itself different ways in different people.

    2. & 3. I do not believe time spent trying to change things related to a physical power difference is going to be time well spent.

    4. What is equal when the genders will always be different? There are natural differences, both physically and mentally. I think the goal should be equality in the workplace, the eyes of the law, and other facets of society.

    I think each gender brings a different set of skills, intelligence levels (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Theory_of_multiple_intelligences), experiences, and personality traits to the workplace or anywhere else. These should be recognized and understood by opportunistic managers and entrepreneurs, then related to the likelihood for success in the job, assignment, or customer base. Until the perceptions of these decision makers are changed, the decisions will be based on what they believe to be truth at the time, or in the best interest of the business or activity.

    So perhaps one way of equaling the playing field is to highlight the areas of common work opportunities in which women typically function at a better, more effective or higher level then men. Perhaps relate how these skill sets can improve the bottom line, reduce risk or lead to a more effective organization. Maybe a metric can be developed for quantifying these skills in a scientific way. Once this type of research is conducted (perhaps it already has), then perhaps groups sensitive to injustices in the workplace can attend HR conferences and effectively sell the value of these attributes to decision makers and gradually reduce existing imbalances.

    A TED talk devoted to such an effort might be very interesting!
  • Jan 19 2013: Contrary to political correctness and '70's feminism, men and women are inherently different. We're psychologically, emotionally and intellectually different. No amount of social engineering can eliminate those differences. One thing we must realize: difference does not equal inferiority. We say "celebrate diversity". I agree, but must we not recognize and appreciate diversity to celebrate it, rather than trying to eliminate it? I believe in full equality between the sexes in terms of equality before the law, equal pay for equal work, equal opportunities for education, etc. but, trying to make women the same as men is to destroy their individuality and personality as females. Don't try to be some weak carbon-copy of a male; be your own full color original. Lastly as to female 'powerlessness": I once heard of a conversation between two women. They younger was complaining to the older about how men abuse their power. (Yes, sigh, it happens.) The older women asked, "If you could choose between power and influence, which would you choose?" The younger woman thought for a bit, then said, "influence". The older one replied, "that's what you chose before God sent you here; that's why you're female." Ever see the movie, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding"? The mother and daughter are discussing how the man is the head of the house, and mom says, yes, man is the head, but woman is the neck and she can turn that head any which way she chooses. Men have the power? Women have the counter balance to it and need to learn to use their feminine gifts for the good of the society. Best wishes.
  • Jan 11 2013: What are your thoughts on the root causes of this?
    that by nature woman and man are suppose to play different roles...they are equal however they need to be in a team...they specialize in different aspects of life
    2) Do you believe it is something we should change?
    i dont think so....what we should change is the respect given to each other should be equal. for example a housewive do a lot of hardwork to maintain the house and the working man do alot to maintain the house by means of th emoney he provide....so the man shouldnt think being a housewive is a lower job....but i personally dont belive in forcing women to go out and work...because in that situation we lose more than we gain...we have to both take care of the house and also work...while the man just go to work and cant do housework properly...and its actually natural that man have the need to be the dominant...u cant change dat its natural...
    3) Do you believe it is something we can change?
    not until u can actually see a guy with a skirt without laughing at him
    4) What will it take to bring about true gender equality?
    well operate all the man to be women or all operate all the woman to become man...u know transgender do surgery...do it for everyone then its possible
  • Jan 7 2013: Very interesting question. There's obviously a huge number of different factors in this, and every person is different as well. The most basic cause of gender inequality is that male and female humans are physically different. They have different hormone balances, different physical strength, etc. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in my experience women generally are more emotional and struggle with self-esteem more then men do. Part of this is hormonal in nature I think. So that might contribute to a lack of confidence or assertiveness. I also think American pop culture has a huge impact on young girls as well. There's a lot of material out there that suggests that the only thing a girl is good for is her sex value. And if you don't buy (beauty product being advertised), you won't have sex value. If you're not skinny you're worthless, etc. However, I am curious about how you define gender equality. Women will never do all the same things men do. Men will never do all the same things women do. That's just fine in my book. We're different, it's ok to have different roles. However I do believe that there is a respect that needs to be shown to both genders, without slotting them into a role they don't want to be in. Every person is free to choose what they want, and I do believe that people should be able to pursue that goal without being hampered by prejudice. If a woman wants to be a executive, that's fine by me. If she wants to be a homemaker, that's also just fine. So what is "true gender equality" according to you, Esther?
  • Jan 7 2013: I believe that the whole idea of gender has actually been changed drastically in the past year or so. Gay, bisexual, transgender, and other communities have always existed, but not until recently have they become more of a hot issue and been prevalent in the world. So the question becomes what makes a woman or man? Is it what anatomy they have? Is it their sexual preferences? Is it what they personally think they are? All around me I do not just see women being put below straight men, but gay men as well. It is not just women suffering from gender inequality. It is true that the white straight male has is dominate in our western society and males in general have more power, but it’s not just over people who define themselves as women. The problem is not as black as white as female and male, but with the rise of people who identify themselves as more than those two things, it is time to look at gender equality in a bigger sense.
  • Jan 6 2013: Religion is a major cause of inequality between women and men.
    It is something we must change if we choose to live healthfully, peacefully, happily ever after.
    It is something we must change.
    Eliminating the ancestral brainwashing done by the religions would be a good starting place. Stop brainwashing children in religions. Vote for women only until there is an equal distribution of women and men in public offices. Have corporations with a disproportionate number of males with higher salaries and positions pay higher taxes than corporations with equal distributions of power between males and females.
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    Jan 6 2013: This phenomenon may differ greatly by location.

    For example, there are countries in which girls are specifically not allowed to be educated or expected to be educated, whereas colleges in the US are more than 50% female, law schools almost 50%, medical schools about 50%.

    Girls perform better in secondary school and graduate at higher rates than boys do. As you write from Canada, Esther, perhaps you can share how it looks "on the ground" there.

    I would need to see better evidence of the universal sense of powerlessness you posit, which is why the case of Canada might prove useful as evidence.
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    Jan 5 2013: Well, I think your conversation would be more powerful if you'd make it more specific. Women feel powerless to do what? Men feel powerful to do what? In fact, your conversation would become the most powerful if you'd make it personal. Is there something you'd like to do that you don't have "the power" to do? What is it? Maybe you have the power and you don't realize it, maybe the TED community can help you figure out how to do it.
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    Jan 5 2013: XY chromosome pairs result in a different being than XX chromosome pairs. The two genders will NEVER be equal. Gender equality is an oxymoron, a physical impossibility. There is a grammatical error in your phrasing. Do you mean to ask how can we rid the world of gender based bias which results in unfair or unjust business practices? If that's what you mean, it's easy. Just pass laws and establish company regulations forbidding such conduct. Most of the Western world is using that system currently. I don't know what can be done for nations/religions who do not recognize the rights of one gender. Maybe they should change their nation/religion.
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      Jan 7 2013: that was laughable. consider understanding there's a difference between gender and sex and using the words accordingly. you could say the two sexes will never be equal (even then, there's people that don't fall in the sex binary), but gender equality is a very real thing. gender isn't physical.
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        Jan 7 2013: Medical Dictionary
        gender gen·der (jěn'dər)
        n.The sex of an individual, male or female, based on reproductive anatomy.
        Sexual identity, especially in relation to society or culture.
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        Jan 8 2013: Did you have a point in replying to my post other than to spread your mistaken belief that gender and sex are different? Your second reply makes no sense to me. Clarify please?
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        Jan 8 2013: Do you still insist, Mr./Miss/Mrs/Ms/ ? Brewer, that gender and sex are different? If so that is why your belief is mistaken. In this discussion we are not talking about the classification of nouns and pronouns. We are talking about injustice and unfairness being foisted upon a person based solely on the fact that they are female (XX chromosomes), or male (XY chromosomes). Again, do you have a point to make as a participant in this conversation? It's OK if you don't, but please stop replying to me if you don't. Thank you!
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          Jan 8 2013: i actually wrote out a huge reply, but i can already tell i'm going to get absolutely nowhere with you.
          have fun with your medical dictionary.
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        Jan 8 2013: I'll bet that reading that hypothetical "huge reply" is going to be one of the great losses of my life.You do realize the sum total of your exchange with me is: 1) "as expected", and 2) "I can already tell i'm going to get absolutely nowhere with you" ( I hope you do not intend anything to do with gender in that statement about getting anywhere with me). I'm sure you will understand if I do not respond to any further replies from you to me personally. Use your one-on-one time with someone more intelligent than me.
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    Jan 5 2013: ' I find it disappointing that even in this modern day and age of supposed gender equality, we have evidence that that women feel powerless and men don't.'

    Whats the evidence to support the notion that said women are not feeling powerless by their own mentality? Afterall, the talk in question is about how peoples body language effects their own level of confidence.

    Ill play devils advocate and put forth the possibility that men and women are different in more ways than one and thus, those differences can be made apparent in certain situations.