In the aftermath of the recent Presidential election, it has become clear that gender equity is a significant issue in our society. Conversations about addressing this problem have been happening all over the country and on social media. One of the most important things you can do as an individual or member of a group talking about gender equity is to make sure your discussion stays productive. Here are tips for having a better conversation on gender equity so that both sides feel heard and respected.
Be open to listening
As a facilitator, you have the power to set the tone of your discussion. When people feel their voices are being heard, they will be more likely to listen and engage in what other members say. This does not mean that every viewpoint expressed is valid or deserves equal time; it simply means you should aim for everyone to be heard before they are dismissed.
Have a personal connection to the issue
This is not just about you. If you are talking, then someone else’s voice should be present in your discussion. Suppose you have nothing to add beyond simply being against sexism or misogyny, for example. In that case, it might be helpful to get another person involved who can provide more insight on how they see this problem playing out in everyday life.
Everyone in the group should feel respected. This means listening to everyone’s viewpoints and trying not to make assumptions about what others are saying based on your own experiences or biases. It also means giving constructive criticism rather than just dismissing ideas because they do not align with your way of thinking. If you disagree with someone, try asking clarifying questions.
Beware of your tone
When you are having a conversation, it is essential to use language that does not make other people feel attacked or disrespected. This can be difficult when talking about sensitive topics such as gender equality and equity. Still, the best thing you can do is try to empathize with those who have had different experiences from yours in life.
Focus on what you can do
When talking about gender equity, it is easy to get caught up in the negative things that have been done in the past. However, this only serves as a barrier to moving forward and finding solutions everyone can agree with. Your group needs to set goals together rather than trying to eliminate mistakes of the past.