To recognise International Women’s Day, our very own Scott Magee – co-chair of Dentsu Aegis Network’s equality network ONE – gives his views on gender in the modern world.
It’s amazing how life sometimes gives you just what you need.
Having grown up in a large extended family that was very loving but also a symptom of its time, I reached adulthood having a very lopsided view of gender roles. My experience had taught me that men went to work to earn money to support their family while women busied themselves in the home, bringing up children and keeping family life running smoothly in the background. There’s nothing wrong with this family model, but it never felt right to me that this was the only model. But it was ‘normal’.
Then I went to University and met the sort of women who didn’t conform to my own social norms; they were independently ambitious, they intended to invest in their own careers and they knew that anything was possible. They were just like me, really.
And while there I met one particular brilliant woman who is now my wife. She is my intellectual equal, she is supportive not dependent and we encouraged each other to grow in equal, though different, ways. And with her I have had 3 wonderful, challenging, eye-opening daughters.
Just like an ex-smoker can often be the most vehement anti-smoking exponent, I bristle when I see evidence of gender imbalance (from my perspective, usually when it is to the disadvantage of girls and women but I also need to work on recognizing and challenging the casual sexism directed at boys and men).
I’ve lost count of the number of times kind strangers have seen me out with my children and have told me ‘they’re going to cause you trouble in a few years’, specifically because they’re female. Presumably either because my fragile daughters will be constantly buffeted like feathers in a cruel wind or because they’ll retrench into their womanhood, rejecting me and everything male as too alien to their sensibilities to even comprehend. I’m experienced enough to know that both these things will happen sometimes, but because my children are human not because they are female.
Even some wonderful friends tell me enviously how it must be ‘so peaceful’ having 3 young girls in the house, watching them read, draw, sew and whisper collaboratively with each other. It’s true that these things sometimes happen, but there’s also more than an earful of fighting, shouting, running, climbing, breaking things and NOISE. It seems to me that ‘children’ is a much more accurate description than ‘girls’.
With my daughters’ permission and with my wife’s support, I intend to help them grow up realising that they can do and be anything that their particular skills and desires allow. That they should expect the world to treat them equally with men but that they also need to reciprocate. That they have as much in common with, as differences to, both other men and women. Equally.
That their dad is a feminist, because gender equality is a right not a choice.
I jumped at the chance to become Co-Chair of ONE, Dentsu Aegis Network’s gender equality network, because it allows me to bring a passion in my personal life into my work life. I’ve already been hugely impressed by the different perspectives that women and men have brought to discussions on this subject and by the commitment that both individuals and the company have made to promoting and celebrating gender equality across our business and beyond.
My personal pledge is to keep an eye out for gender discrimination and to challenge it then and there to help #ConquerTheDivide.
Scott Magee, Co-Chair, ONE (Dentsu Aegis Network)
Tweet and share your pledge on equality using #ConquerTheDivide and #BeAJedi