Before you go, sign up for our email newsletter to get inspiring stories, expert advice, and more.
Duane Morris Institute
The client kept asking me questions in response to my colleague’s presentation. I did not think the client believed I was a ventriloquist, so I suspected there may have been unconscious bias.
I have had people ask me: why is working to eliminate gender bias such a passion for you as a man? My response: how could it not be?
I grew up in a family where the partnership between my parents was one of true gender equality. My dad worked two jobs so my mom could go back to school and become a therapist. Then, my mom worked more hours so that my dad could make a job change that meant making less money but much more professional fulfillment: professor of dental medicine.
Through it all, the family always came first for both of them. We were very three lucky kids raised in a house full of love from two warm and nurturing parents. My sister, brother and I were raised without stereotypic suggestions on what we could be or do. I saw how gender equality made my very strong family even stronger.
When I entered the work world, I saw how much the business world differed from my family. Gender stereotyping was painfully common and I realized that the messages that we had received as children were even rarer than I had thought.
Of course, seeing and experiencing bias are worlds apart. I began to “feel” it when I was fortunate enough to mentor a number of very gifted women. I will never forget one client encounter that was a true learning experience for me.
A female colleague and I were meeting with a client. I asked her to join me because she had deep expertise in an area where mine was shallow.
The meeting began with issues on which I had been advising the client for quite some time. When we reached the issue were my colleague knew far more than I did, I asked her to take the lead.
She did a great job, but the client (mixed gender team) kept asking me questions in response to my colleague’s presentation. I did not think the client believed I was a ventriloquist, so I suspected there may have been unconscious bias.
I left the room, saying that I had an emergency. Truthfully, I did not.
When I returned half an hour later, no questions were asked of me on the issue where my colleague had the expertise. She was in firm control of the conversation, and candidly, I felt great inside.
I learned that I can be an ally to my female colleagues' success in moments big and small. We can consciously tackle unconscious bias.
I am glad I learned that lesson. I am also grateful beyond words to have been raised by parents who, by their words and actions, made me passionate about gender equality.
Get more from Lean In
Lead a Circle
We make it easy to get started, and provide all of the materials you’ll need to run your CircleLead your Circle
Join a Circle
Women around the world are meeting regularly in small groups to support each other and learn new skills–join one todayFind a Circle
Learn New Skills
Use our library of education resources to build new skills and support your careerBuild your skills