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Issue #20: Daddy's Girl

In this historic month, as Scotland votes to stay in the United Kingdom and Emma Watson launches the United Nations' #HeForShe campaign (with the aim of getting 1 billion men worldwide to pledge their support for gender equality in the next 12 months), there is a real sense that working together as a team is better. If men and women team up to champion diversity and dispel gender bias and stereotypes, everyone wins - not just the ladies.

However, most articles about gender inequality are written by and targeted at women. Before individuals (and men in particular) can support a change initiative, they must first be convinced that there is something wrong with the status quo. Women are pretty attune to gender bias, but men sometimes need a trigger (a shared experience or a female mentor) before they fully engage in the debate. One question I have been asking myself is whether having a daughter is a trigger.

Given I am not male and don't have a daughter (not yet!), I thought it would be interesting to ask two fathers who each have two daughters, Richard and Joel, if having a girl really does change how men feel about women's issues and what kind of world they hope their daughters will grow up in. I hope you find their stories as insightful as I did.  

Not forgetting that the gender debate works both ways - there is still so much pressure on boys and men to act like "men". This can cause issues in itself and we explore these with Mr Smith in our Men's Corner.  
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Issue #21 of Suit & Pie is out on 9 October 2014. Subscribe here to receive it straight to your inbox and catch up on past issues in our archive. You can also read the Suit & Pie story here courtesy of
Diversity triggers
According to a study carried out by Catalyst, there are 3 main factors which will determine men's awareness of gender bias: 

1. Going against masculine norms - men who chose not to act like 'men' in certain situations (eg. by expressing admiration for female colleagues or more devotion to helping others) were more likely to view gender norms as a barrier for women too

2. Having a female mentor - men with women mentors were more likely to be challenged to think critically about gender

3. A strong sense of fair play - men who were predisposed to recognising wider issues of unfairness (eg. extreme poverty or racial discrimination) were more likely to champion women's equality. This was the most significant predictor. 

The study also questioned whether having a daughter would increase awareness of gender bias... Read our interview with Richard and Joel below to find out! 
An increased awareness?
Has having a daughter increased your awareness of gender inequalities, particularly bias in the workplace? 
Richard: "Honestly, no. Casual sexism and racism still passed as light entertainment in my formative years so unconscious (or 'obvious') bias was all the rage when I started working - along with XR3is, The Tube and Margaret Thatcher. 

I've seen shades of inequality throughout, along with a number of notable female success stories. Unfortunately, those successes were often achieved by those who went 'native' and chose mimicry of the dominant leadership style (I'm thinking Thatcher, despite the handbag prop), rather than overcoming the general myopia.

However, as we now seem to be able to articulate the benefit of diversity in a way that pulls at our collective £££ strings, I am increasingly aware of the absurdity of ignoring the obvious."

Joel: "Not particularly. Coming from South Africa and having parents who were in social work, I have always been very aware of inequality and unfairness in its various forms (material and racial in particular).

At home, I am surrounded by women (wife and two daughters plus my son). Having a wife who has worked professionally, I have been witness to the choices between family and career that she has had to make and I have also seen how stereotypes can work the other way - my son has often been one of the girls with a few of his own hand-me-down handbags from his big sister (at 6 years old he is a self proclaimed 'bookworm' with a penchant for dressing up!). Therefore being flexible and open at home and at work is a key mindset for me. My overriding feeling is that we are not being creative and flexible enough in our thinking on diversity."
A better world
What kind of world do you hope your daughter will grow up in? What one thing would you change for her?
Joel: "Like, I hope, most over protective fathers and mothers, I want my daughter to grow up in a world that is more sustainable with more hope, love and empathy and with less fear as well as material focus.

At an individual level, a world where potential can be nurtured and grown to create greater confidence and where culture is more open to different styles - not bound by stereotypes. We are seeing more of this everyday - men and women can be homemakers or breadwinners or both and shouldn't be bound by traditional formal roles (or what their parents projected on to them in terms of what they believed was right!). Ultimately, I want my daughter to grow up in a world where the causes closest to her heart can be championed and where family and community are front and centre. Feeling every day that she can be more of herself in anything she chooses to do"

Richard: "I'm hoping that the changes being brought about by strong female and male role models (eg. Helena Morrissey of the 30% club, Barack Obama on equal pay, Emma Watson on He For She) may mean that my daughters, Ashley (15) and BabyCakes (2), are more likely to achieve whatever is theirs by merit alone, without the need to learn new behaviours designed to emulate a dominant stereotype. I'll still be coaching them to avoid complacency though.

It may not come quickly enough for Ashley and she's not nearly as well acquainted with Sheryl Sandberg as she is the Kardashians and Abby from Dance Moms. So I'd like to speed things up a bit and move on from this period of positive discrimination (laudable but unsatisfying) to a world of unconscious equality."
                                                ... and endless possibilities
When she grows up, I want my daughter to be...

Joel: "More conscious of always following the calling in her heart before she gets stuck in a career and relationship that restricts her fulfilment... One wants to be a paediatrician and the other wants to be Peppa Pig!"

Richard: "If not the next Lindsey Vonn (pre-limp), then at least able to put her acerbic wit and Philosophy & Ethics GCSE to good use. How many High Court judges are women?"
Socks & crumbs (or the bit at the bottom)
Heard it through the (corporate) grapevine...

- On 14 October, the Professional Women's Network will be hosting an event about transitioning from a 'good job' to a fulfilling career.

The guest speaker will be Jenny Garrett, APCTC Women's Coach of the Year 2014 and author of Rocking Your Role.

- The Women of the Future Summit and Awards will take place on 28 October at the Hilton Park Lane.

Women of the Future provides a forum for high achieving, high potential UK businesswomen to network, share experiences and build business relationships.

Check out the speakers list and awards shortlist.
This week I will be...

- (re)watching Emma Watson's hard hitting and incredibly moving speech at the launch of #HeForShe (boo to those haters!)

- hoping to bag some tickets to the Swingers London pop-up for some crazy golf (nothing else!)

- getting in on Tasting Tuesdays (5-7pm) at Wholefoods - did someone say free samples?

- laughing at the 38 pics in the attack of the funny animals (loved the worst bar ever)

- trying out the gigantic Sunday roast (chicken claw and all) at Hixter Bankside
It's a man's world - maybe we aren't so different after all 

Walk like a man

It isn't only the women who suffer from stereotyping. There is an increasing awareness that the pressure on men to 'man up' and 'take it like a man' can be detrimental too (which has been proved to result in higher alcoholism and suicide rates - see the excellent 'The Mask You Live In' trailer). 

'Being a man' usually means avoiding all things feminine (for fear of being called a 'wimp' or 'whipped' by peers), being a winner (by taking part in any activity that increases wealth, social prestige and power over others), being tough (not displaying any physical or emotional weakness) and winning the respect and approval of other men by being a 'man's man' (usually involving manly pastimes such as watching sports and drinking beer - OK those don't sound too bad!). 

So how much pressure is there really on men to 'act like men' and is there a penalty if you don't? 

We asked Mr Smith (father of 4 boys):

"There is pressure to conform to avoid social exclusion whether it's at school or work, and that can be pretty daunting from time to time. Ultimately, you can only really be happy if you are true to yourself. My experience is that if you are prepared to 'have a go' even if you fail that earns respect."
Mr Smith's corner

Mr Smith gives us his thoughts for the week.
Highlights: Bangalore launches mission to Mars - I love that story this week. India get a satellite to Mars at a cost that is 10% of what the USA spent on a similar mission. I have never seen a man as happy as the Indian Prime Minister on announcing the news!

Lowlights: 'Boys' night in' on Saturday as Mrs S was out so I lined the boys up on the sofa to watch Dr Who. I had briefed them fully regarding hiding behind the sofa if scared etc but it didn't quite go to plan and the four year old had only just stopped crying (even after I gave him extra chocolate buttons) by the time Mrs S made it home. We are back to X Factor next week...  

Lesson learnt: Apparently there is no need to show your tax disc on your car from 1 October 2014, that is a real bonus as I realised the weekend that my tax disc on my car expired in March 2014. I must have a new one somewhere but the chances of finding that are nil...
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