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Take the bull by the horns, ladies!

Published Aug 22, 2015

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Women’s month seems to come and go without much change.

There is a growing sentiment that gender equality must be taken more seriously and the month of August should be used to not only celebrate historical milestones, but also chart a measurable way forward.

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Instead of complaining about the lingering injustices and gaps between men and women in the workplace, I’ve embarked on an insights and publishing mission, engaging women to understand the obstacles and dialogue about the best way forward.

The gender inequality question is complex. Centuries of patriarchy has created systems that not only favour men, but literally has institutionalised the bias against women.

The structural bias which favours men can be witnessed in societies where women can only inherit half the land of their brothers.

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Or, even worse, many cultures regard women as half a witness in court, and in Saudi Arabia, women still can’t drive. The advantage men have gained over the years has created an expectation throughout society, from academia to the office.

The unconscious biases are very real.

To reverse the biases, we have to start at grass-roots level and there is no better place to start than asking women what they are experiencing, what they’ve learned and dialogue with them about the way forward. This is precisely my mission.

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I’ve accumulated many partners, including an organisation called Leadership 2020, to assist in developing platforms and gathering the research from women in the workplace.

During a recent success resources conference hosted by author of Rich Woman, Kim Kiyosaki (wife of Rich Dad Poor Dad author Robert Kiyosaki), we asked women three basic questions about careers, finance and culture.

Firstly, what do you consider to be the greatest obstacles you face as a woman? Secondly, where do you think the greatest opportunities are? And thirdly, what would you tell your teenage self about being a woman to prepare her for the workplace? The answers are very revealing.

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Out of 70 respondents, nearly half said their culture held women back and promoted the efficient advancement of men.

About 30 percent believed the workplace did not offer appropriate policies for balancing being a mom and executing their duties in the office.

Many mentioned the objectification of women in the media and a lack of mentors as additional obstacles. Whether you agree or not, this is what professional women are saying. When asked about the opportunities, 25 percent thought women needed to step up and be more firm to be taken seriously and at least 10 percent believed women were not doing enough with the opportunities presented to them by the government.

The most beautiful and rewarding part of the research was when they shared what they had learned and would have liked their younger selves to know.

The range was broad and nearly everyone had something different to share. But the broad lesson was to become financially educated earlier and stay “authentically” a woman, no matter how much pressure you faced to become like men.

Ladies, enjoy your Women’s Month knowing change is happening and we want to see it happen faster with your help!

* Follow Timothy on Twitter @timothymaurice

THE STAR

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