Accepting gender as a spectrum benefits all humans
“Boys will be boys” – said a parent to excuse roughhousing behavior
“Don’t be bossy” – said a caregiver to a young girl speaking up
Gendered language starts early. What if we recognized there is a gender spectrum?
Gender socialization starts in the womb and it is accelerated through life. From the gender reveal parties, bedroom decorations, and clothes – we teach gender early. The most popular question asked of expecting parents – is it a boy or a girl? Have you ever paused to reflect: do we care so much about gender?
Fast forward to our adolescence. Girls confidence peaks at age 8, at the same age we tell boys to stuff their emotions. Women struggle with self-care and the mentality of “not being able to do it all.” Suicide rates are the highest of middle-aged men with the primary cause – loneliness and isolation.
Is the binary boy vs. girl, woman vs. man world even natural? As we head into the Pride month of June where celebrations and training opportunities centered around the LGBTQ+ community will be more prevalent, organizations and individuals have an excellent opportunity to educate aspiring allies about the gender spectrum and gender fluidity.
Gender is a social construct
Back in our tribal days, which account for 90% of our time on the planet, we know that human tribes were egalitarian. It was only at the advent of agriculture that women were relegated to the home to make babies and men, with their superior upper body strength, plowed the fields. Up until 12,000 years or so ago, we were equal. We were always meant to be allies, sharing power equally.
A less binary world benefits all
These questions have percolated in my head since my Women’s Studies days in undergrad. I have never fit into the gender box as a woman. I like sports, but I like dresses. I enjoy spending time with men and women equally. I like pedicures and camping. I am more than a gender label. I am my best self when I operate in the non-binary. In fact, we all are. Insert, the idea of the gender spectrum.
People that identify as gender non-binary has gotten a lot of attention recently. Even my home state of Indiana has an option on our driver’s license to identify as gender neutral. With 31% of Gen Z identifying as LGBTQ+ this issue is not going away. Letting go of the dated narrative of what it means to be feminine (stereotypical attributes like; submissive, caretaker, pleasing) and what it means to be masculine (stereotypical attributes like; physically strong, non-emotional, confident) is better for all humans.
Gender equality drives growth
The data shows that when we embrace others’ differences rather than fear them, we get better as a society. In Melinda Gates’ book Moment of Lift, she cites the strongest correlated variable with economic development in developing countries is gender equality. Diverse teams outperform industry peers on every metric that is important – innovation, decision making, financial performance, and more.
What if we gave people the freedom to be their full selves? What if we accepted those that were brave enough to uncheck the gender box? Through being an ally, and letting others claim their true gender identities, we all become stronger together.
Want to do better, and not sure where to start? That is why we developed the Lead Like an Ally virtual self-paced training program, perfect for organizations struggling with accountability for diversity. You can also check out all of our other virtual and live program offerings.