Athletes, who happen to be women

The Rio olympics have raised a lot of social media discussion on sexism and the way women’s achievements are reported and generally spoken of. The media still diminishes the achievements of female athletes – consistently. American Corey Cogdell-Unrein, who won bronze in the trap shooting, was in the press coverage referred to only in relation to her famous husband. Another athlete’s husband-coach was credited by a reporter to be responsible for her performance. Another gold medalist with a world record was a secondary news under a male silver-medalist from the same day.

In the Finnish media, the focus in the past days has been on the woman who’s the only medalist for us so far. A boxer with a story. She had only been training boxing for the fun of it, until at the ripe age of 28 and with 2 kids, her coach awoke her passion and she started taking the sport seriously. Disturbing was to see comments on her story undermining the stunning achievement, and the sarcastic requests to highlight men who are fathers as well. Of course mother and fatherhood are equally important but when talking about athletes, becoming a mother is a completely different challenge than becoming a father. Yet, it seems it’s not clear to all that a woman’s achievement and success story could for once be featured in media, instead of that of a man’s.

And what on earth is all this talk about women athletes hair-dos and make-up? Honestly it’s horrible that female athletes have to compete in their looks as well, as if that was more important than their actual performance. I’ve heard reporters in Rio have been actually having discussions on the gymnastics make-ups?

I’m glad the global sporting event is gaining attention to gender roles and equality, and hope the discussions continue past the games and beyond sports. Because in pretty much every field in life women are still lesser-valued than men.

In my current job, as we organize large international conferences, gender equality is a difficult topic. Namely, when inviting speakers our team wants to achieve full gender balance but struggles event after event in achieving the target. We have a certain level of seniority as a guideline for accepting a speaker, and it’s clearly how there are far fewer women in such roles than there are men. There are of course many brilliant women and excellent public speakers as well, but still too few to easily achieve 50-50 speaker balance from both genders. Only panels where all invited organizations / companies straight-forwardly nominate women are panels where gender equality or women empowerment is being discussed. And these are panels where we desperately want men to speak in.

At least, as Rio reporting failures and the responses to those are showing, world is slowly waking up to this. It’s no longer acceptable and “passable” to diminish women’s achievements or give the credit of their success to the men in their lives. Social media, keep it up. We all have a role to play – it ‘s never a funny joke to be sexist.





Views Are My Own

Since I started using Twitter roughly a year ago, there’s been one thing really wondering me. In many profiles, you see a few lines explaining who the person is, what the person does – and then claiming that views are his/her own.

Why wouldn’t they be? Whose views should they be posting? When I visit someone’s profile and it clearly shows it’s a personal account, versus a private company’s or organization’s, I tend to take it as obvious that the views are the person’s own.

If you are reading my tweets, blog posts or LinkedIn updates, whose views are you expecting to get? When I’m acting on the name of the company employing me, I’m making it clear in the communication. If I want to share what my mom is thinking or what my best friend is doing, I’d make it clear in the context.

Aren’t we being over cautious with protecting ourselves? Or has the world become such a random place that we really need to try and prevent any linkages potentially open for misunderstandings? And would stating the obvious, that the views are our own, really be of help?

Our actions have consequences. We need to claim responsibility for them. Whatever you post online, you better make sure you can stand behind the view or be ready to humbly apologize if proven wrong. You take action, you bear the consequences.

Maybe the world truly has become such a random place that we need to highlight the obvious. Perhaps there’s a growing tendency and eagerness to find misunderstandings and controversy where there’s none. I had such a moment yesterday on a bus when looking at the sign “Break the window with the hammer”. I started getting this sudden naughty feeling of taking the hammer and trying it against the window. That’s what the sign clearly told me to do.

It seems people have become inclined to look for misunderstandings, rather than for positive connotations. I wish the “picking a fight” attitude won’t win the battle over kindness and understanding.

I let the common, good sense, win and didn’t touch the hammer. And I hope anyone reading my postings won’t hold them against my employer, family, friends, yoga teachers, strangers on the streets etc. I claim the full ownership for my own thoughts and views.