A Middle-Aged White Guys perspective on International Womens Day

Bodhi Venture Labs
6 min readMar 8, 2023

By Angus Norton, CEO & Founder of Bodhi Venture Labs

Women’s rights have come a long way in 100 years, but there’s still work to be done.

With International Women’s Day today, it is essential to celebrate and reflect on all of the progress made in gender equality throughout history. Today marks a day for us to recognize how far women have come since gaining fundamental universal rights, though there is still work to be done.

It’s an opportunity not only for those who are female-identifying but also for male-identifying individuals like myself to take a step back and reflect upon their own roles and responsibilities as members of our global community. As a middle-aged white man, I’m proud of our collective efforts thus far; however, I understand that my unique perspective serves as a waypoint rather than an arrival point when it comes to understanding the incredible intricacies associated with this discussion around women’s rights.

Reflecting on my own past experiences and how far we’ve come

I often think of International Women’s Day and the countless civil rights and equality issues that began over a century ago but still need to be fully addressed. As a New Zealander who is married to an incredibly hard-working Mum, and myself having grown up with a single mother, this topic carries particular weight for me. From Martin Luther King’s dream to Kate Sheppards’, these struggles must continue if we are ever to see their original hopes materialize ultimately.

Kate Sheppard is widely revered as the founder of the international women’s suffrage movement and hailed from New Zealand. Our nation has a long history of empowering its indigenous population and female citizens, and New Zealand was also the first nation to give women the right to vote in 1893. Though New Zealand still has much work to do to realize Anne Sherpard’s dreams for gender equality during her lifetime, we are making great strides with each passing day.

I often discuss diversity, which is uncomfortable for obvious reasons, and I always wonder what the audience thinks. What would someone like me know about such a topic? Recently someone asked how “did you get where you are today?” After stalling momentarily, I realized the answer was that it was mainly because of privilege — 50% hard work, luck, and focus, plus another 50% privilege provided me with success in the early 90s when I started my career. In contrast, my father’s generation could attribute up to 70%, and perhaps even 100% of my grandfather’s generation, at that same time frame.

Examining the role of women in society today

Today, International Women’s Day celebrates the numerous contributions of women to various aspects of society and the world at large. In my life, I have seen first-hand how women’s roles as parents and corporate executives have been essential for us to move forward. As a father who has had the fortune to work with female colleagues in the corporate world, I have found that women’s leadership is just as important as their role in raising children; both are fundamental elements that make up a functional, prosperous society in today’s day and age. Thus on this day, we should research how women’s roles can be further improved throughout all aspects of our lives and value how women’s achievements continue to shape our current world.

Analyzing the barriers that are still preventing women from achieving their full potential

International Women’s Day is a significant annual event reminding us how far women have advanced their rights and achieved their societal potential. Despite the progress that has been made, there are still countless barriers preventing women from living their lives with the same autonomy men enjoy. As a middle-aged white man, understanding these entrenched issues requires me to reflect on my privilege and recognize men need to be educated on how hard it can be for women in the workplace. This includes gender bias, unequal pay, discrimination, and lack of family-friendly policies for working mothers. Every Woman deserves access to opportunities that make use of her full capabilities as an individual; concerted efforts by both sexes must be made to seek out and address these obstructive disparities.

Examining how stereotypes, bias, and prejudice can still hold women back from getting what they deserve

Examining the lingering effects of stereotypes, bias, and prejudice on International Women’s Day can be a powerful tool for understanding how far society has come in elevating women to their deserved place in the world — but it also underscores how much is still left to be done. From my experiences as a middle-aged white guy, I’ve seen first-hand how archaic biases and outdated stereotypes still plague the workplace. This leaves women with fewer opportunities — from being passed up for promotions or undervalued in their accomplishments — even when going above and beyond what is asked of them. As we look at this day, let us all consider our part in dismantling these oppressive systems so that everyone — around the world — can truly reap the rewards of earning respect through hard work and dedication.

Exploring the importance of education in enabling women to achieve their ambitions

International Women’s Day is when we recognize the importance of empowering women and celebrating their unique accomplishments. However, access to education is crucial to achieving these extraordinary feats — which is often taken for granted in many parts of the world. Education gives women the knowledge, skills, and confidence to take the often complicated steps to realize their ambitions without worrying about being limited by gender biases. As a middle-aged white guy looking through my personal and professional experiences, I have come to appreciate how vital education is in helping liberate women from restrictive gender norms and allowing them to create their own destinies. It’s an essential tool to ensure future generations are free from this discrimination.

Looking at how men need to do their part in promoting gender equality and fighting for women’s rights

As a middle-aged white guy, I believe it’s more important than ever for men to be vocal allies for women in the fight for gender equality and in defense of women’s rights. We must be advocates, providing the platform and resources needed for women to be heard above the noise and express their opinions without fear or judgment.

On International Women’s Day, we can remember that we can be the change we want to see in the world. This means listening without judgment; recognizing and using our privilege wisely; supporting policies and products made by women; actively trying to increase female representation within organizations; advocating against gender-based violence; and rewarding female innovation and creativity. By doing these things, we give women a voice and open dialogue so society can take further steps toward real advancement. Men must join in this international effort with one voice — both on International Womens Day, more importantly, every day of the year.

As I’ve reflected upon my personal and professional experiences, International Women’s day marks a moment to not only celebrate the progress made in achieving gender equality but also reflect on how much work there is still to be done. The role of women today is more critical than ever; however, the barriers that prevent them from achieving their full potential persist and need to be addressed urgently. Stereotypes, bias, and prejudice make it even more difficult for women to break through roadblocks. Education can provide tremendous opportunities for women, and men must do their part in working toward gender equality and fighting for women’s rights. It is an individual responsibility to become informed about these issues and actively contribute toward creating an equitable society.

But how? How can we get involved? How can we start conversations? How can I help other men get involved? Making concrete, actionable steps within our communities is an effective way to begin the journey for collective change!

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