Where Are All the Women? (3 Experiments for You to Try)
I love a good list.
On Twitter, I am drawn to threads about ‘The Top Ten Whichever about Whatever!’ I like Instagram Carousels for this same reason. I can even get sucked into a juicy BuzzFeed list from time to time.
And, as I have waded into the ‘Personal-Development / Self-Improvement’, industry, I have experienced NO shortage of lists on these topics.
Jackpot for me!
I invite you to try these 3 little experiments:
Top Books/Speakers/Resources about Personal Development.
Or should I say, notice the absence of anything?
That’s right, barely a woman in sight.
The Personal Development Industry is reported to be worth $40 billion dollars +, and women make up 70–80% of the target market… but the VAST majority of leaders are XY chromosomes. The first time I realized this was when I watched some Tony Robbins videos a couple of years ago. I was surprised to learn that no women were scheduled to speak at the day-long multi-speaker event — but the audience was filled with women.
As women, does it make sense to derive our “inspiration,” “motivation,” and “success-building” strategies from men?
If Mr. Robbins instructs ME (a woman) on how to succeed professionally and personally, he is not speaking from experience. His chances, as a white male, are very different from mine, as a female. He has no idea what I think at all. He has never been the only woman at a company or a member of a minority working in a field where white males dominate. He has never had to juggle a career, being a woman, and being a mother full-time (or, Buddha-forbid, a single mother of numerous children). He, therefore, has a very limited (and privileged) point of view.
My most recent final straw on this topic, (yes, this finish lines moves), was this past spring. I was invited to an online event being touted as ‘One of the Most Important, Influential Entrepreneurial Events of the Year. 10 Speakers, 10 Topics’.
I was jazzed to attend!
But upon further examination, I was disheartened.
Not. One. Woman.
(So no, I did not attend).
- Search for ‘Best Self Improvement Books’.
- Search for ‘Best Self Improvement Books’, men.
Take note: there will be little change between the results of the first two queries.
3. Search for ‘Best Self Improvement Books’, women.
Ah ha. Quite a departure from the first search.
What does this reinforce? Men are the default. Women are the exception.
It’s a ‘Male. Unless Otherwise’ attitude.
Author Caroline Criado Perez, in her book Invisible Women, writes:
“The result of this deeply male-dominated culture is that the male experience, the male perspective, has come to be seen as universal, while the female experience — that of half the global population, after all — is seen as, well, niche.”
Last experiment, and probably the one that packs the most punch for me:
- Do an image search for ‘nurse’.
- Do an image search for ‘sexy nurse’.
Now you have found the women.