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International Women’s Day: 3 Things You Can Do to #PressforProgress

All over the world, women earn less than men for doing the same work, have less access to education and do more domestic labor.
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Brooke Lark/Unsplash

International Women’s Day is typically a time to celebrate the achievements of women. But this year, on the heels of #MeToo and Time’s Up, activism and awareness are ramping up.

“There is a lot to fight for: Engage! Women and men alike. We need power to make equality a reality,” tweeted Margrethe Vestager, the European competition commissioner.

Here’s what you can do to stamp out gender inequity in the workplace.

1. Go on a Domestic Strike

Women still do the majority of the housework and childcare in most households, even when they’re the breadwinners. (And in affluent homes, that labor is likely to be hired out … often to women of color.)

This unpaid work is one reason why the gender pay gap stands at 76 cents on the dollar for all men and women. When someone in the family needs care, whether it’s children or elderly relatives, women tend to be the ones who provide it. That restricts their ability to work longer hours and put time and energy into developing their careers.

Women may even “choose” lower paying, lower status jobs because they need more flexibility. But, their “choice” is often based on necessity, not preference.

Women all over the world are drawing attention to this problem by protesting, striking and demonstrating. In Spain, for example, feminist groups asked women to do no housework and spend no money today.

2. Push for Pay Transparency

Here’s something both men and women can do to fight inequity in the workplace, once they have enough clout: push for pay transparency.

“Being more transparent about pay doesn’t have to mean posting everyone’s salary for all to see, though there are some companies that go that far,” writes Lydia Frank, PayScale’s VP of Content Strategy, in the Salary Negotiation Guide. “What it does mean is employees having an understanding of their company’s compensation philosophy, strategies and practices.”

In a more transparent organization, it’s harder to pay men and women differently — and easier for women to see when they’re being shortchanged. Having the information empowers women to negotiate for better pay … or make tracks to an organization that pays more equitably.

In a more transparent organization, it’s harder to pay men and women differently — and easier for women to see when they’re being shortchanged.Click To Tweet

3. Become Aware of Your Own Unconscious Bias

Even women can have unconscious bias against female leaders, and research has shown that both men and women judge female negotiators more harshly than male ones. (Why? According to researchers Hannah Riley Bowles, Linda Babcock and Lei Lai, it comes down to “perceptions of niceness and demandingness.”)

Regardless of your gender, understanding your own unconscious bias can help you to be a better advocate for women in the workplace. Project Implicit offers free online tests that can help you assess hidden biases of all kinds, including gender, race and sexual orientation.

Beyond that, you can start paying attention to your own behavior. Do you interrupt women more often than men in meetings, or make assumptions about some team members’ home and work priorities based on gender? You might be surprised at what you notice, once you’re looking for the behavior.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Tell Us What You Think

What are you doing today to make your workplace more equitable? We want to hear from you. Tell us your thoughts in the comments or join the conversation on Twitter.

Jen Hubley Luckwaldt
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