Published on April 7, 2020 here: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/am-i-gender-blind-virginie-martins-de-nobrega/
Three to four years ago, I somehow was surrounded by a growing number of conversations around #gender. I listened and heard many times ‘it is because I am/she is a woman’, ‘she is not studying sciences because she is a woman’ or other stories referring to gender as the source of all kind of daily discriminations. I was puzzled.
Was I gender-blind?
Don’t get me wrong. I am well-aware of discriminations, abuses of all sorts (emotional, psychological, and physical), rape as a weapon of war and others crimes towards women. Here, it was different. I was faced with women explaining how they face subtle discriminations every day because they were women. Again, I was puzzled.
I also realized that conversations I had had before were related to intersectionality rather than gender in itself. Thus, I did not focus on gender but rather on other social, economic and ethnic backgrounds. In addition, I have always perceived education as a moderating factor. Whatever the judgements and bias, knowledge is a treasure that no one can take away from you.
As everyone, men and women, I surely did accept professional endeavours paid less than for other co-workers without knowing it, at first. As everyone I had faced inappropriate remarks – though it may concern women more than men. As everyone, I have faced (un)conscious #bias. As everyone, I have unconscious #bias.
Could one of my bias be that I was gender-blind?
There are many things I can question, but not being a feminist is not one of them. Yet, I decided to question my critical-thinking process by weighting in all factors I would consider when assessing one of the situations described to me. The result of this process was inconclusive.
Was I really gender-blind?
To date, nothing really convinced me I was. And again, it does not mean that I found it acceptable that women are paid on average of 14.8% less per hour than men in the EU (Eurostat, 2020) or than women are under-represented in executive positions, as well as in politics.
When facing inappropriate remarks, I might find it offensive but fools remain fools, whatever your gender. When I do not negotiate enough for myself, I learn and try to do better. Do I think that people could be fairer and judge competences on an equal foot? Yes. Can I control them? No. Was I not hired just because I was a woman? Possibly. But, would I like to work with someone that narrow-minded? No. Do you think I am not strong enough to be an executive manager because I am a woman? Try me.
Am I gender-blind? No. I just do not want to be define only by my #gender. If you do, there is little chance you are of any interest to me anyway. Life is bigger than gender.
And you, are you gender-blind?
Virginie Martins de Nobrega