Eight Powerful Reasons You Should Wear a Pink Hat (and do other things to confront gender and racial discrimination)

by Debbie L. Kasman in , ,


Time magazine’s cover for its February 8th issue is a single, pink, knitted hat with the words “The Resistance Rises” written above it. An estimated 500,000 women wore pink hats at the Women’s March in Washington on January 21, 2017. The hat has become an iconic symbol of resistance. Here are eight powerful reasons why you should wear a pink hat (and take a stand against gender and race discrimination in other ways):

1.     We are on the “bleeding edge” of changing gender roles. So much has changed and yet so much remains stuck in the nostalgia of another era. Many workplace laws were written in 1938 when the world was a different place with tax policies that favoured breadwinner-homemaker family models. (Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time)

2.     The hard-won rights for women and girls that many of us now take for granted could be snatched away. Culturally, those rights are very shallowly embedded. They haven’t been around that long, historically, and they are not fervently believed in by everyone in the culture. (Margaret Atwood, Canadian poet, novelist, and essayist)

3.     We’re in new historical territory…Many millions of horrified Americans are starting to grasp that we can’t politely stand by watching families, lands and liberties get slashed beyond repair…politeness is no substitute for morality, and won’t save us in the end. We only get to decide who we are. As a writer and a person my bedrock is perennial hope for a better world than this one… (Barbara Kingsolver, American novelist, essayist, and poet, in an op-ed piece published in The Guardian)

4.     We are here and around the world for a deep democracy that says we will not be quiet, we will not be controlled, we will work for a world in which all countries are connected. God may be in the details, but the goddess is in connections. We are at one with each other. We are looking at each other, not up. No more asking daddy. (Gloria Steinem at the Women’s March in Washington)

5.     The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) says that based on the small incremental changes Canada has made in gender equality at the senior management level over the last 20 years, it will take 228 years to close the gender gap in Canada. (I don’t know what the data is in the U.S. but it’s likely similar.)

6.     A 2015 study from LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company looked at data on promotion and attrition rates (as well as other aspects) in 118 different companies. Researchers found that across all organizational levels women are 15% less likely than men to get promoted. Women are also at least nine times more likely than men to say they do more childcare and at least for times more likely to say they do more chores at home. Black, Hispanic, and Asian women are 43% more interested in becoming a top executive than white women and 16% more interested than white men, but in a 2016 “Women in the Workplace” study, researchers found that only 3% of those occupying the C-Suite are women of colour.

7.     Women face sexual harassment in the workplace and they encounter many difficulties when they come forward. For each woman who complains, there are still many more women who have left jobs, been demoted, or continue to be abused or harassed in the work place. (Sasha Patterson, author of Chasing Justice, Challenging Power: Legal Consciousness and the Mobilization of Sexual Harassment Law)

8.     Male dominance within broadcasting has been recognized and monitored by the European and Broadcasting Union and the UK media unions over a long period. Since the mid-1980s there has been relatively little change despite a surge of ‘interest’ and equal employment opportunities...The full significance of these statistics is that they were researched six years after the BBC launched what it proclaims as one of the most progressive equal opportunities campaigns." (Vicki Coppock, Deena Haydon, Ingrid Richter, author of The Illusions of “post-feminism:” New Women, Old Myths)

After working in education for 28 years, I have concluded that there is no such thing as a meritocracy, there is no level playing field for women, or men and women of colour, when it comes to getting promoted to senior leadership positions, and the glass ceiling is alive and well in North America and in other parts of the world.  Gender and racial equality has not been fully achieved and women’s rights initiatives and quotas as well as race initiatives and quotas are totally relevant and even necessary in today’s world.

Studies have identified that common barriers to women who attempt to achieve senior leadership positions are traditional, patriarchal cultures, and perceived male dominance of management, but no uniform “glass” or “concrete” ceilings emerge because they are not consistent across societies or cultures, nor are they homogenous within each society or culture.

The barriers experienced by women are determined by cultural and religious beliefs and values, psychological dimensions, socio-economic and political factors.

This is part one in a two part series. To read part two - Three Hidden Ways Education Contributes to Discrimination, click here.

Debbie is an international educational consultant and former teacher, principal, principal assistant to the superintendent for Special Education, acting interim superintendent for Curriculum and Special Education, and student achievement officer at the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat at the Ministry of Education in Ontario.  She is author of the book Lotus of the Heart:  Reshaping the Human and Collective Soul.  She has lots to say about spirituality, female leadership, and the need to transform education.  Never miss a blog!  Join her author email list below.