"Take The Lead" By TBWA For Project 20/20 Shows Men Reading Women's Sexist Experiences In The Workplace — VIDEO
Sometimes, we're better able to see the bigger picture when the proverbial shoe is on the other foot — and that's exactly what advertising agency TBWA has done in their recent video. Called "Take the Lead," it collects women's sexist experiences in the workplace and has them read by men. It's powerful, and yet the questions it raises are not just about sexism in the workplace. They're also about why we still require men validating women's experiences in order for those experiences to be believed.
The video, which is part of the larger initiative Project 20/20, will certainly grab your attention as you start to hear men share what are typically female problems: Issues of apologizing all the time, not being heard amongst the men in the room, and being accused of "bossiness" simply for having an opinion. (That last one really makes me cringe.) For me, it shone a new light on these matters and highlighted even more just how petty, degrading, and disadvantageous these occurrences really are.
It's not the first time someone has used the help of men to show the sexism, stereotyping, harassment, and oppression that many women experience — but as I mentioned earlier, the trend raises an important question: Why is it that we're so much more moved by the sexism women have experienced when it's shared through the eyes of men?
It's almost like we need to relate it back to men in order to validate it... and there's something about that that just doesn't sit right. Why do the experiences not speak for themselves? Why are women brushed off when they point out the problematic ways they are treated? This refusal to believe the experiences from the source speaks yet again to the sexism inherent in our culture.
At the same time, though, since our culture obviously isn't at a point yet where women's negative experiences are enough to ignite the change we need, maybe channeling them through different lenses is a tool we can use to get there. Sometimes, having men share these experiences for us points out how utterly ridiculous they really are — and if we do that enough, maybe we'll finally get to the point where we don't have to anymore.
As is the case in "Take the Lead," sexism is happening someplace many of us already know it to lurk: At our place of employment. Here's what some women in the advertising industry had to share.
1. "People Think I'm Bossy When I Have An Opinion."
Northeastern University professor Benjamin Schmidt built a chart using data from 14 million student reviews of their professors, and the results don't lie: In professional settings, people think more highly of men. What's more, they compliment males for the same things they criticize females for. One of the best findings? Male professors are often "brilliant" and "knowledgable" while their female counterparts are "bossy" and "annoying."
2. "I Shouldn't Say I'm Sorry, But I Do It All The Time."
Believe it or not, there is science to back the fact that women apologize more than men. One study found that men have a much higher threshold for things they feel they need to apologize for. Women do it so frequently to appear more likeable — something men don't have to worry about. And that, frankly, is BS.
3. "I Was Once Told To Come To A Meeting Just To Look Pretty."
The same study from the Northeastern University professor found that people tend to focus more on a woman's looks or personality, while they pay more attention to a man's skill set and knowledge.
4. "If I Don't Laugh At Their Jokes, I'm Being Too Sensitive."
This is one I've experienced firsthand, having spent a couple years in a male-dominated office bursting at the seams with sexism and tacky jokes. And it never failed: When the women didn't laugh along with the men, we were labeled as "uptight."
5. "We Have To Work Harder To Achieve The Same, If We're Lucky."
6. "Every Time I'd Disagree With My Old Boss, He'd Call Me Emotional."
This one kills me, because for this woman, simply disagreeing with her boss automatically turned her into the "typical emotional woman."
7. "I Asked For A Raise And Immediately Said I'd Take Less."
One study published in the Harvard Business Review found that male MBA grads from Carnegie Mellon were making 7.6 percent more than female MBAs from the same program. Why? Most of the women accepted the initial offer, with only seven percent negotiating. 57 percent of the men, however, asked for more money. Do you ever wonder why women get nervous when it comes to asking for more money?
8. "I Go To The Restroom To Cry So No One Knows I'm Weak."
What caught my attention here was the exact words this woman used: "... so no one knows I'm weak" — not "thinks" she's weak. Even this woman is certain she's "lacking," showing just how ingrained the belief that showing any sort of emotion means someone is weak is. And that is bonkers.
9. "I Walk Into A Room Feeling Like I Have To Prove Myself."
The data has spoken, and women are clearly at a disadvantage. It's only inevitable that we'd walk into a room of men and know that we have to prove we're worthy of being there.
10. "When I Told My Former Boss I Was Going To Have A Baby, He Said, 'But Your Career Is Going So Well.'"
There's this stubborn belief that women can't "have it all": the family and the killer career (and whatever else they'd like to fill their lives with). The sad part? Many women can't — but not because they're lacking in any one department. A research team at the University of California, Berkeley found that female graduate students who had babies while they were studying were twice as likely as new fathers to turn down an academic career.
Watch the full video here: