Despite the suffragette movements of the late 19th Century and the birth of post-modern feminism, considerable polarity still exists between woman and men.
These gender differences are evident in the upper echelons of power; in corporate sectors, banking and positions of responsibility, but what can men do to break down and challenge the obstacles and barriers which restrict women from achieving the same degree of success in progressive societies?
Proponents of gender parity would argue men in powerful positions are best placed to advocate for greater equality and harness a culture that values women as much as it values men. They’d also argue empowering women doesn’t mean disempowering men. I’d tend to agree with both sentiments, as would a large number of influential males in the world. Tim Hanstad - president and CEO of anti-poverty non-profit Landesa - said as much recently, when asked about how female empowerment plays a vital role in eliminating poverty in developing countries.
Britain’s Prince Harry said when women are empowered, they immeasurably improve the lives of everyone around them, and he went on to include the part men can - and should - play in female empowerment, stressing that ‘real men treat women with dignity and the respect they deserve’.
But we also need to remember, here, that equality doesn’t necessarily mean sameness. We can celebrate differences too, and use them to our advantage.
Studies show women are often more sensitive, intuitive and in touch with their emotional side than men; all skills highly effective in negotiation, so surely a benefit in any boardroom.
Current statistics in the UK show women make up a full 47 per cent of the workforce, but only hold 23.5 per cent of non-executive directorships in FTSE-100 companies. I guess, no matter how far we’ve come on the journey to equality, we’re still suffering after-effects from the days of rampant sexism.
Of course, basics such as increased flexibility and support for working mothers are a given. But over and above this, it’s a simple question of proactivity. Men should be actively encouraging women into positions of responsibility; as clearly stated by Hanstad, a society can only be improved by the empowerment of 50 per cent of its people. Ladies, if there’s a man in your life, make sure he’s on board. it’s 2016, and there simply is no excuse not to be.