What Works: Gender Equality by Design

My recommended read for 2017. What's yours?

(blog originally posted at www.HappenCIC.org)

As we said goodbye to 2016, Nicola and I decided to share our thoughts on a book we’ve each read this year. I’ve chosen, What Works: Gender Equality by Design by Iris Bohnet.

In a year full of bad news and examples of what doesn’t work, I’ve tried hard to pay attention to the good news, to what is working and to the strengths we can build on. This book therefore jumped off the shelf at me!

As a dreamer, I long dream of the day when all inequality is eradicated: When all people value each others individual characteristics and contributions equally. To achieve that dream I think we need to work smartly, collaboratively and lightly to redesign the way we think and behave, and to redesign the systems and environments in which we operate. both individually and collectively.

In her book, Iris Bohnet neatly pulls together various studies and research from around the world to help guide further action. She draws upon various examples of what works (and what doesn't) and the use of Data, Experimentation and SIGNposting in redesigning the environments in which we work, learn, live and care. I’ve attempted a summary in the accompanying mind map.

The book has encouraged me to make changes in both my life and work to include:

  • To learn more about unconscious bias.

  • To regularly check my own privilege and bias.

  • To seek out, collect and analyse more gendered data.

  • To actively champion other women and their work and make them more visible.

  • To help drive a collaborative campaign for greater equality

  • To look out for and cease opportunities to redesign systems, e.g. devolution in Greater Manchester.

  • To look for more examples of what works for gender equality in other contexts.

  • To further develop my own facilitation and coaching skills so I can help create conditions for collective intelligence. In particular through clean language and systemic modelling.

  • To establish, facilitate and participate in more peer coaching circles, ‘circles of collaboration’ and ‘working out loud circles’ specifically for women.

  • To be quicker to share my own thinking, work and achievements.

  • To spend more time with women and actively build peer group and network particularly within Greater Manchester and North.

  • To be quicker to call out and challenge everyday sexism and discrimination.

Some personal highlights from 2016:

  • Co-founding and driving #DivaManc!

  • Successful launch of Parliament Project North with first workshop for women on 'exploring your political pathway'.

  • Charing cross-party panel on gender equality at Women’s Equality Party Conference - interesting to hear participants describe how 'liberating' it was to be on all woman panel and put party politics aside.

  • Facilitating and participating in fabulous ‘working out loud’ circle with women across Europe.

  • Getting to know more diverse range of awesome women across Northern England.

  • Meeting various women changer-makers making a different in the community, workplace, public sector, local government and parliament.

  • Speaking about my dream of co-creating an eco-system in Greater Manchester in which everyone’s contributions are recognised and equally valued on panel at Devolution 101 event run by Fabian Society (I still find public speaking daunting, particularly when its about something I really care about and with people I respect.)

  • Chanting 'Equal say, men give way' at workshop run by the awesome Gail, CEO of Pankhurst Centre and Manchester Women’s Aid, at Fawcett conference.

  • Dressing up as a suffragette (no less than three times!) - on a historical bike tour, for a film on Women’s Peace Crusade and and to disrupt talks at Fawcett conference.

  • Discovering that over 50% of Manchester councillors are women and by design.

  • Reading various reports published this year on gender equality, including Fawcett Society on gender and devolution; report co-authored by Nicola for British Council; and Women’s Budget Group response to this years budget.

  • Reading ‘From Contempt to Curiosity’ by Caitlin Walker.

  • Listening to my son’s talk positively and articulately about gender equality.

I'd love to hear what your recommended reading is for the year ahead and what you'd like to celebrate from 2016.

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