Let’s talk about Sex(ism)

Riley Smith from the People and Culture team at Versent

Riley Smith

People & Culture

October 3, 2019

Last night Versent hosted the Men Championing Change (MCC) oversubscribed meetup where “Everyday Sexism” was discussed. Everyday sexism occurs in both formal and casual settings and can be something that’s said in jest but plays into a gender stereotype or can be something that steps waaaaay over the line.

Ben Meneses-Sosa ran an interactive session where he collected some real-world scenarios that women had sent to him, and asked groups to discuss the implications.

The scenarios were far ranging. A woman being assumed as ‘the new designer, not a dev’, simply because she was a woman. Overhearing a group of men discussing and rating the women on a nearby table out of 10….

It’s so disappointing that this happens all around us (whether we notice it or not).

The Sexism scale.

I really appreciate the MCC meetups because the discussion always focuses on actions in the real world, nothing ‘fluffy’.

Anthony Vido from Versent Melbourne making the evening’s intro

It doesn’t matter if you’re a man or a woman (yes, some of the scenarios last night were women being sexist) – change. is. needed.

Here’s the four things I took away from last night to get started:

  1. Start with yourself – increase your own awareness, try to recognise the language you use or things you say. Ask people you’re close to if you’ve ever made them feel uncomfortable or said something that was a step too far.
  2. Speak up, respectfully and authentically– if you’re in a group of people or a situation where someone is being disrespectful, pull them aside and call them out on it. It might be hard to do but start from a positive place and assume they didn’t know any better or didn’t realise they were doing it, whether it’s a man or a woman.
  3. Don’t assume something that seems ‘tokenistic’ won’t make a difference – something as simple as changing ‘him’ to ‘her’ when talking about developers might seem like a small thing but will impact both your perspective and provoke thought for those you’re talking to.
  4. Talk – man, woman,CEO or Associate – everyone can help. Have open discussions with people, listen to their thoughts and talk about yours, you’ll be surprised how much more aware you’ll become of everyday sexism around you (both ways, not just against women).

Ben was a brilliant presenter and brought some light to a tough topic to discuss as openly as he did. The passion the people in this group share about wanting to make a difference is both infectious and empowering.

Change starts with each one of us. We can all help raise the bar around sexism.


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