Monday, 23 December 2013

Asking the Filipina: Is Gender Bias Real?

*A Pantene video advert went viral. Their message, "Don't let labels hold you back.", pokes at gender biases against women who go head to head with men in the world. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the bestselling book 'Lean In: Women. Work, and the Will to lead' was impressed by the video and tweeted her thoughts about it. Having over 1.2 million followers on Twitter, the video grew wings and has now over 8.8 million views. It is now playing a part in the raging global debate on gender biases.

But is the 'Gender Bias' real for Filipino Women?

When I hear news about women stoned to death or tortured for 'dishonoring' their family, in this modern times, I cannot help being enraged and disgusted. Women are denied education, voting rights or even the most basic of freedoms. No doubt there is extreme gender bias in this world, because men do not ever have to suffer that same fate and are most often the ones who impose this sort of treatment on women. But then I look at our society and I truly appreciate that ours is far more humane to women, than many of our Asian counterparts.

Many Filipino women are at the helm of their own businesses or occupying top management positions, granted not in the same proportion as men, but still, they can freely aspire and achieve such positions. Mothers have a powerful say about their children's upbringing. Filipinas have a voice and do not hesitate to speak out for themselves when they feel oppressed or wronged, and our men are very inclined to listen and make concessions without feeling a need for retribution. Women have fought along side men in all our revolutions and have been elected to the highest post in the land. Sure, there are some outspoken male chauvinist (bigots) and misogynists (women haters) but no one really takes them very seriously. I guess Filipinos are really about peace and harmony and Filipino men don't really want to face the Filipina's wrath. Or am I mistaken? Is gender bias really a pressing problem for Filipinas?

Instead of making a pitch that gender bias is or isn't a problem in this country, I thought it might be a better idea to ask Filipino's what they think. Below is a short survey on gender bias. Please spare some time to participate and share with your friends, especially with the women who will suffer the full brunt of it.

A Little Sidenote

When I read the Rappler's report on the Pantene advert, I remembered that I wanted to read Sheryl Sandberg's book 'Lean In: Women. Work, and the Will to lead'. So I bought the audiobook immediately and finished it in the 6 hours it took to listen. Clearly Sheryl is an outlier. She had access to minds and institutions that a regular Joe could only dream about. She worked with the likes of Larry Summers, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Tim Geithner and Mark Zuckerberg. She worked at Google and then at Facebook, two of the largest companies in the world. She is an exception rather than a rule. Hers isn't a woman's typical experience. This has been the main criticism against her advocacy, that she wasn't speaking from ground level, where most women will be coming from.

But her perspective, however uncommon, offers women a most precious vantage point. One that has not been shared until now. Because Sheryl has reached the heights that she has, she can give her readers an amazing world of what could be for all women, especially for those who have chosen to work in a corporate world. Women (even men for that matter), especially like us who live in the 3rd world, have become so conditioned to live with lack, that we expect it, and nothing more. We have stopped thinking about what's possible, what we can change, what we must change to make our lives more fulfilling. We cannot solve our current problems with the same level of thinking as we now have. We need to think at a higher level to surpass the conditions we struggle with. Sheryl dares us to think from a higher more empowered level. She challenges us to tear down all our self-imposed limitations. 

If women were to take it upon themselves to solve the world's problems, what new and wonderful solutions might they come up with? It's all very fascinating to ponder. So I recommend that women and men read Sheryl Sandberg's book, 'Lean In: Women. Work, and the Will to lead' and transform the way you think. You can purchase a digital copy from Amazon for roughly PhP 300. We owe it to ourselves.
"Conditions for all women will improve when there are more women in leadership roles giving strong and powerful voice to their needs and concerns."
-Sheryl Sandberg

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*Information source: - #WHIPIT A Filipino campaign goes global and viral - POSTED ON 12/18/2013 9:19 AM  | UPDATED 12/18/2013 11:17 PM

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