Three Ways To Be A Feminist At Work


Dec. 1 2019, Published 12:20 p.m. ET

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The struggle for gender equality is on-going in all parts of society. The workplace is no exception. If you’re a woman who cares about gender equality, sometimes contributing to this effort can feel like a full-time job. So how do you make your contribution to the struggle for female empowerment in the workplace without devoting all your time to activism?

If you’d like to build feminism into your work life, here are some approaches that you can take to empower yourself and other women.

Speak Up

Girls are typically conditioned to be “nice” at the expense of saying what’s on their minds. This results in many women holding their tongues rather than offend others with their true perspective. In contrast, men are raised to speak up, no matter how unpopular or controversial their opinions may be. What’s more: society compounds this problem. While women who voice their opinions are described as ‘feisty’ or ‘opinionated’, men may even be rewarded for going against the grain. If you’ve ever tried to deal with people who interrupt you at work, you may have noticed signs of this gendered trend.

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Next time you realize that you’re biting your tongue in a work situation, take one for the feminism team and have your say. Whether you’re in a meeting about which database comparison tool would suit your company best, or you’re discussing how the office espresso machine should be set up, voicing your opinion is an important way that women can push back against gender bias in the workplace. While it is never easy to make waves at work, you may find it inspiring and energizing to reframe your speaking out as a powerful act of solidarity.

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Ask For A Raise

Even after decades of work by feminist activists, the gender pay gap is still a frustrating fact of life across industries. Many women (and men, too) fear that raising the issue at work will be met with a harsh backlash. If it helps, remind yourself that you’re not asking for anything out of the ordinary: men get paid more on average than women for the same work. You are entitled to the same pay as your male colleagues, whether or not your boss agrees. It is a powerful act of feminism to know your worth and make it known to the higher-ups when you are not being adequately compensated for the value you bring to the business.

Now Fight For That Raise

Ask people in the street why the gender pay gap exists, and one response will come up repeatedly: because women are less likely to ask for a raise than men. The fact that this assumption is widespread does not make it true. Research has shown time and again that women ask for raises just as often as men do. The gender discrepancy arises in the responses to these requests. Men are more likely on average to be granted a raise than women are. And, negative repercussions for asking for a raise are more widely felt by women than by men, who are not generally labeled as ‘pushy’. This is our reality. As a feminist in the workplace, one of the ways you can push back against the patriarchy is to push back when your request for a raise is denied. First, ask for a raise. Then, fight for it.

Gender bias in the workplace is an unfortunate reality. These tips will help you show your feminist colors while you’re out there, smashing your career goals.

[Editor’s note: This story is produced by one of our trusted partners.]

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