in the minority on this one

i

When I was 11, my sister and I wore pink t-shirts covered with small round logos of pigs circled with the phrase, Male Chauvinist Pigs (MCP). We had matching MCP stickers that we stuck on my brother’s bedroom door although as far as I can recall, Bob had done nothing wrong other than be an 18 year old guy. It was 1972, the heady days of women’s lib, Gloria Steinem, my mom being on the Saskatoon Status of Women Committee and our older sister in law school.  We were proud adolescent feminists.

It was great.

Last week (2017, some 45 years after I called my brother an MCP) I was invited to a women-only event for entrepreneurs. I replied with an admittedly snippy note that I find the idea of women-only events condescending and “1992”-  I couldn’t say 1972!- and thanks but no thanks.

As Andrew gently puts it, I’m in the minority on the topic of events just for women. He also notes quite rightly that if most women found them offensive then they would dwindle away and companies, universities and professional firms wouldn’t host them anymore.

True.

But my objections to them include:

  • How does it benefit women to network at events where 50% of the population is excluded due to gender?

  • Why is it okay for women to do what is now generally accepted as wrong for men to do: have a gender-based event? Are we that developmentally delayed?

  • If the topics are about how the workplace/business community can be more female-friendly, wouldn’t it make sense to have men in attendance to hear about it?

I agree with a good friend’s view that a bond (in friendship and in business) can form more quickly with people “like us” and that this can include gender. But those bonds would still naturally form in an event that includes both men and women. If I attend an event for entrepreneurs, I know there is a far greater chance that any resulting long term, “let’s have coffee”, bond will be with other women. But at the event itself, I may get exactly the nugget of advice I need from a man in attendance. Not because he is a man but just because they are half the population… and I’d rather not give up time from my personal life or my business to attend an event where my chance of learning something is reduced by half.
True confession: I did not apply the 24 hour email  rule I have espoused in this blog when I replied to the invitation and I could have been more gracious.
But the gist of my reply would have been the same: I want to hear what the boys have to say too.

About the author

Jean Blacklock

Jean is the president of Toronto's best cupcake and cake bakery - Prairie Girl Bakery. Read more about her background in commerce, law, and entrepreneurship here.

By Jean Blacklock

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