Dear Pakistani men, here's how you can support women in the workplace

Dear Pakistani men, here's how you can support women in the workplace

What you need to start doing to level the playing field between male and female professionals
Updated 14 Sep, 2019

This article was originally published on 8 March, 2017.

Yes, women have made great strides in the workplace in recent years but let's be honest, inequality still persists.

Gender equality in the professional environment can only be achieved when employees can access and enjoy the same opportunities and rewards regardless of their gender.

An inclusive workplace is still far from the norm but the good news is, if you're willing to walk the talk, there's a lot you can do to improve equality and reap the benefits of diversity.

For starters, men have to step up, check their male privilege and become an ally for women. On the face of it, it may not seem like women have been given the short end of the stick in the professional realm but if you examine things more intimately, you'll see how deep the disparity runs when you start picking up on little things like how women hesitate to step up and take on more responsibility because they're scrutinized much more than men.

Also read: Men try to beat Naseem Hameed's running record in this video and fail miserably

That being said, internalized sexism also exists; a growing body of research confirms that women are just as likely as men to show sexism toward women in hiring practices, salaries and professional mentorship. So here are some practical tactics for men AND women to consider:

1) Ask your female colleagues for their opinion frequently.

It's important that a healthy dialogue exists between you and your female colleagues. Too often, women only speak exclusively to other women about any new ideas they may have or even just to share their opinion.

Sometimes, entitlement may lead you to believe that your opinion is the only one that matters but we all have our biases and admitting we have them is the first and best step to being more open, objective and accepting.

Just including women in more discussions, whether they're in the board room or lunch room, is a small step to achieving a more balanced workplace environment.

2) Don't engage in sexist 'locker room talk'.

It's time to lock up the locker room and throw away the key.

Despite your best efforts, you might still be guilty of sexism if you take part in "harmless" locker room talk about your female colleagues.

A survey conducted in the UK saw 52% cite sexual harassment at work as a problem and also found a third had been subjected to unwelcome jokes and a quarter experienced unwanted touching.

Sexual innuendos and comments, or sexually suggestive jokes are a big no-no; there's no grey area here, it IS harassment. To foster a healthier work environment, it's essential that you treat your female colleagues with respect and dignity.

3) If you spot a male colleague interrupting a female colleague in a meeting, ask him to stop.

Yes, it's a depressing fact but the manterruption is real.

A 2014 study at the George Washington University showed that when men were talking with women, they interrupted 33 percent more often than when they were conversing with men.

Even if you don't do it yourself but have observed other male colleagues doing it, step in. Tell them to evaluate why they do so; are they interrupting to get clarity or are they interrupting to gain power?

When women speak up in the workplace, they're walking a tightrope of sorts. We're either barely heard, interrupted or signed off as too aggressive or overbearing, which is why women end thinking saying less is more. To foster gender equality, it is time men acknowledge that women not only possess the skill set needed to thrive in the corporate arena but also the right vocal chords.

4) Don't expect your female colleagues to make tea, manage staff lunches or take on traditionally 'female' roles.

When there's a birthday at the office, don't just turn to the women with blank faces to cut you a slice of cake.

In workplaces around the world, we keep up with these gender stereotypes in which men are career-driven and ambitious and women are expected to be domesticated and nurturing.

Someone has to take charge, serve on committees and plan office lunches — and just like with housework at home, that someone is usually a woman. Having both men and women take on these duties is key to organizational success; this is not just our burden to bear.

We've seen that men love to speak up so why not use your voice to draw attention to the contributions women make to your workplace? As long as women keep doing these things, they'll be expected to do them so how about men start with lending a helping hand and smash these sexist roles?

5) Acknowledge women's formal designations.

A woman could be at the top of the corporate pipeline but men will still have a hard time acknowledging she's in charge.

It's no secret that it irks men when women are in a position of authority and that comes out in different passive aggressive ways. After working long and hard to reach a position of seniority, a woman deserves not to be treated like a blooming teen.

Treat women like you would treat any of your other male peers and if she's your boss, address her with respect.


renegade Mar 08, 2017 05:24pm
this that women needs to do, stop gossiping about men, if you can't get job done don't complain about the colleagues not helping you! beauty don't get you to the higher position neither your clothing.. be professional
Realist Mar 08, 2017 06:15pm
Women need all this support to achieve gender equality? Than why do we talk about equal opportunities etc. I have seen several discriminating job ads which ask for 'Female Managers' than where does merit go. Having said all this disrespecting women is never acceptable and should be discouraged at all levels.
Sameer Mar 08, 2017 07:53pm
The female gender must recognise that they cant switch gears between "ladies first" and "equal treatment" when they see fit. Suggestions in this article destroy the very concept of gender equality. Women should be more capable to speak for themselves rather than have men defend them in conference rooms.
Surprised. Mar 08, 2017 08:29pm
I have witnessed this myself, this silent bullying women into submission. Let's know a difference here. I'm a guy and I think there's a difference between being a Male and a Man. Males become Men (after an arderous journey into the kingdom of Know-thy-place-and-limit). There are some complexity stricken guys who feel threatened by the presence of females superior to them in any professional/mental capacity. Personally, I believe 'Man' signifies something, like an Engineer or a Cosmonaut, being a Man is to abide by the laws/norms of civility, equality and taking a stance for what is right, to be the embodiment of the character you aspire to. Men are made, males are born. I have pledged, I do again today, to take a stand and protect them and their rights at all places, not because they are weak and need protection, because I want to build a world, and I will, where my daughter's opinion will have as much worth as any living human.
AdAM Mar 08, 2017 09:02pm
As far as audit professional is concerned I can vouch Females are given preferential treatment and males are the victims. The profession requires long working hours, late night sittings etc which males are expected to do and females are exempt
Ali Mar 08, 2017 09:21pm
agree 100% that women should have equal say and pay in the workforce and deserve the same amount of respect as the males. But in my experience, women tend to get preferential treatment a lot also. one example of this is when I worked in a bank, women were allowed to leave 5pm on the dot no issues but men were expected to stay till 8
jaredlee67 Mar 08, 2017 09:43pm
I am a professor who teaches gender equality. Your point no. 4 is highly questionable because there are NATURAL and CULTURAL (assumed) roles that men and women assume out of their own will. Your point no. 4 suggests that men and women should go against natural roles. What about those women who want to serve tea at workplace? Let them do it, perhaps, you are forgetting that women are the ones who provide nurturing care (as mothers) to their families. If there are women who don't want to serve tea/food at workplace then it is their choice, it should be held against them. However, no one should be forced to reverse the natural roles. It is your anti-anthropological bias that is giving a message that men and women are equal. No, they are not equal because they are different from each other. The importance of their respective roles is equal, but they are different. Apples and oranges are equally important but they are two different fruits. So, why compare them. Thanks!
Princess_of_DHUMP Mar 09, 2017 03:04am
# 4 is spot on :)
AYZA Mar 09, 2017 03:56am
There needs to be mutual respect by both men and women in the workplace and this respect should be should not stop once employees leave the office. As for gossip, I'ver personally seen men gossip (especially Indian men- more so then Pakistani men) so this type of unprofessionalism must be included in a company's code of ethics and sensitivity training is also a must. There should be no gray areas when it comes to female or male insubordination and unethical conduct in the office. If such a situation arrises, the perpetrator should be fired on the spot - no second chances, especially if there's substantiated proof and a pattern of heinous conduct.
FLYING GOAT Mar 09, 2017 04:34am
Point number 3 does not make sense. In a gender equal world any person should be able to politely interrupt.
JA-Australia Mar 09, 2017 04:46am
@renegade In all fairness, men gossip just as much as women do. That's a fact.
Garu Mar 09, 2017 05:38am
The best way is to constantly ask yourself this till you internalize. When interacting with your female colleague just talk to her like you would do to your male colleague and every time you think you are stereotyping her role ask yourself and stop. It works. Over a few weeks your attitude will change attitude nd there will be no special treatment or no ambiguity in dealing with them.
illawarrior Mar 09, 2017 06:09am
@jaredlee67 Women serving tea is NOT a "natural role" - it is one society has conditioned them to accept, and it shouldn't extend to the workplace.
JA-Australia Mar 09, 2017 07:24am
@jaredlee67 Your objection is not valid. Just because women hold certain roles in their family does not mean they should be expected to hold similar roles in the workplace. A woman who is hired to provide technical, management or creative expertise is only required to provide that particular skill set. If you want someone to cater parties, hire a catering company. Your female employees are not expected to do those duties, any more than your male employees are. If you are indeed a professor to gender equality, then your comment is all the more unfortunate.
PERVIZ PATRON Mar 09, 2017 07:24am
Lets be real Pakistani men like submissive women and to accept them to treat women as their equal is an impossible task. Women are the men's desire so treating them with respect is impossible, As women climb the climb the ladder to higher education and are proving more controlled, organised, punctual and productive men are being threatened in fields that were male dominated and with women power inserting themselves men fight back in primitive ways as they miss the days when they were dominating factor and women were quivering in fear.
Talha Mar 09, 2017 08:03am
Manterruption?? I interrupt anyone who sound illogical in a meeting regardless of their gender. I would continue to interrupt respectfully any man or woman in a meeting if I think I have a better point. All professionals work for the organization, not for any man or woman. Everyone deserves courtesy whether a man or a woman. But the fact is the competition is cut throat. All men and women need to sharpen their skills and personalities. No one is going to take care of the other gender. Women don't work to take care of the men in the organization and the men don't work to take care of the women in the organization. In fact if one is honest in with his or her work and totally focused neither he or she would discriminate nor would he or she seek extra privilliges at work. Manterruption, really??
Fakhir Mar 09, 2017 08:36am
We are seven and one sister. I always asked my sister to serve the cake, as she would always give equal share to all of us. Now my daughter do it. If want equal share, give knife to ladies. Even if they cut you, they will in equal pieces
ak Mar 09, 2017 11:51am
I am a Manager Operations in a reputed marketing firm and let me tell you (Not that I disagree with the article, its really good), in my line of work, men are the victim. Not to brag I was the highest earner for my firm, yet I was thrown in operations and a girl with barely any experience was made head of marketing. See, I respect women by all means, I was the one to mentor that girl, but all this feminism talk (and to be clear, I am a feminist), has really hurt men in the working place as well, just a thought though. Why doesn't anyone talk about that.
ak Mar 09, 2017 11:53am
@jaredlee67 Hear hear.
MA Mar 10, 2017 07:45am
Men should give births, why should Women suffer giving births. Should be equals.
M. Emad Sep 14, 2019 04:31pm
Aout 70% Pakistani working women experience harassment in the workplace.
huma yousaf Sep 15, 2019 12:41pm
The people who are saying women get preferential treatment as they can leave early from office whereas men stay late. They also need to review as to why this happens. It is because women are not even safe on the streets due to the constant glares and harassment going on, which shall become worse if they leave later in the evening. Secondly, some women are also required to manage the house chores because of the not contributing attitude of these same men at home. Hence again the burden lies on the females. Kindly first try to understand their problems before all the taunts.