Thursday, January 3, 2013

Let's Talk About Gender

Today the 113th Congress is getting sworn in. There is more gender diversity this time than ever before – 20 out of 100 Senators and 81 out of 435 Representatives are women. Still, the gender gap is evident.

There is also a gender diversity issue among people who like to learn about gender gaps. Among attendees of weekly WAPPP seminars last semester, the percentage of men in the room never got above 30 percent. And when 60 people crowded into the room for a particularly well-attended session on “Race, Gender and Dynamics of Social Hierarchy Reversal”, only 7 of them were men – 12 percent.
This is disappointing to me. I want to discuss gender with women and men, because social and political implications of gender affect all of us. Instead I face the situation that Debora Spar described best: 
“All too often, women are scared of raising the topic of gender with men, thinking it will brand them as radicals or troublemakers, while men are terrified of saying or doing anything that might classify them as politically incorrect. The result, of course, is that no one says anything productive at all.”
This observation stood out to me as a rarely-acknowledged truth, even though it was not the focus of her article.

In an attempt to spark dialogue, I asked a few of my male colleagues at the Harvard Kennedy School to share some thoughts on gender in the context of their personal and professional experiences. I will feature their posts over the next couple of weeks. 

If you are a male reader interested in contributing to these guest-blogger series, please contact me at, and let’s talk about gender! 

Anya Malkov is an MPP candidate at the Harvard Kennedy School, a WAPPP Cultural Bridge Fellow, and an alumna of From Harvard Square to the Oval Office.

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