In the first episode of Break the Bias miniseries, Consciously Unbiased co-founder Bindu Lokre sat down in a studio in New York with special guest Reshma Saujani, founder and CEO of Moms First and founder of Girls Who Code. We dive deep into the importance of breaking bias, embracing vulnerability, and creating a society that supports working mothers. We explore Reshma’s powerful message of compassion, courage, and the need for meaningful dialogue to drive social change.
Listen to the full episode here, and read below for some key takeaways.
Caregiving Equality is Women’s Equality
“Girls, especially girls of color, are tasked with taking care of the family,” says Reshma. “And because we don’t have a structure of care in our society, it’s why we keep having this cycle of poverty happen for young girls.”
When daycares were forced to close due to the pandemic, Reshma noticed how it affected her female students and coworkers, with many having to miss work or school to care for their families. She described how the pandemic altered her perspective on caregiving and how it has a direct impact on women’s equality.
“If I had walked into a speech and someone would raise their hand and say, ‘How do you balance being a mom and being a CEO?’ I would literally wave my hand and be like, ‘Don’t worry about it, just keep working hard,’” says Reshma. “Like, I hadn’t really bought into this girl boss narrative that you just have to work really hard, lean in, color code your calendar, and there’s just an express train to the corner office. And the pandemic was just really eye opener that we have no chance at equality because women are doing two thirds of the caregiving work.”
“If I had walked into a speech and someone would raise their hand and say, ‘How do you balance being a mom and being a CEO?’ I would literally wave my hand and be like, ‘Don’t worry about it, just keep working hard”.
Listening is the Key to Understanding
Reshma recalls a conversation she had with her son, Sean, about equality and how the conversation inspired a new understanding on what it means to share your perspective. “At first, I thought it was like, you’re feeling left out. It’s because I’m talking about girls and not you, and you feel like I’m putting my attention and energy in something other than you,” says Reshma. “But the more we’ve talked about it, the more I’m like, actually, no, he’s coming from a very logical, observant space where he’s like, I genuinely don’t understand this.”
“We immediately assume sometimes that people are coming from a place of racism. If Sean was a 45 year old white man, our knee jerk reaction would be like, you’re sexist. But obviously an eight year old is not. He’s forcing me to actually have these really deep and important conversations and looking at it from perspectives and recognizing that everyone has their own reality in the way that they experience and they see the world. And it is about how I need to shift and show him my point of view and I need to listen to his point of view.”
Reshma encourages us to look beyond our own perspectives and find common ground. If we want to understand, we need to be willing to listen and accept others’ perspectives.
Structural Failures are Not Women’s Failures
The pandemic changed social media and the way we view other people’s lives, suddenly it wasn’t picture perfect moments but messy beds, and wearing the same clothes as yesterday moments that gave everyone a real look into other people’s lives. This new perspective brought to light that families everywhere were struggling with inequity in the home when it came to housework and caregiving. This revelation gave comfort to some women and lifted the burden of feeling that the structural failure of the home was theirs alone.
“We have created a society where we make moms feel like they don’t deserve anything. That if they’re failing, it’s their own personal problem. I think that when we are in our own households, when we’re doing the laundry and the dishes. And our husbands are not doing our partners are not doing what they need to be doing. We think it’s our own personal failure. ‘I married the wrong person. I just haven’t trained him.’ And then I think the pandemic was such an eye opener because you got a window into other people’s families and you’re like, oh, no. Collectively, it’s a structural problem. And so it’s really, I think, the shift into recognizing that we have to change the structure and that it’s not individual inadequacies, it’s structural inadequacies.
“We have created a society where we make moms feel like they don’t deserve anything. That if they’re failing, it’s their own personal problem.”
The pandemic shifted how we think about caregiving and women’s roles in the household as well as in the workplace. It’s through this shift that we strive for equality in the workplace and the home. While we advocate for women and mothers we must also remember to listen to others perspectives to not only gain understanding but share it. Reshma reminds us that women are not to blame for society’s structural failures and that they are not alone. It’s through open dialogue, empathy, and breaking bias that we can create a more inclusive and equitable world for all. Creating an inclusive environment can be hard.
Did you know that Break the Bias podcast is recognized in the top 20% of most followed podcasts on Spotify! Don’t miss out on past episodes and keep up with the discussion. Explore our live sessions in the DEI Video Archive and If you are interested in bringing our training to your team, you can get more information here to learn more about our DEI Training.
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