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Just thought I'd comment on my situation. I am a male
technical writer working for a female supervisor. While
most of the engineers whose work I document are male,
one of our engineers is female. We all have spirited
discussions of matters sexist, and try to point out
negative stereotyping wherever it occurs. I try to
comment on negative male stereotyping as fast as the
women attack negative female stereotyping. The key,
I believe, is to stand up for what you believe and
communicate. When a woman challenges a man's negative
attitude, not spitefully but assertively and ideally
with humor, the man is forced to think at least for a
moment. Persistence may cause him to grudgingly develop
a more respectful attitude.
The problems tend to occur when the "guys" get together
and talk about "them women" among themselves, which reinforces
their misconceptions. When I am drawn into this type of
discussion, I try not to participate in the bashing and instead
offer counter examples. I can only hope the same holds true
when "the gals" get together to discuss "those damn men".
Hopefully there is some correction taking place there as well.
Women need to know that all men are not callous sexist louts,
just most of them ;-) . And men need to know that all women are
not empty headed sexpots, just the good ones ;-) . Actually, I
believe humor is the very best way to diffuse tension, and used
well it can be an extremely powerful way to point out the
absurdities around and within us all.
The more mixed company interaction and communication that occurs,
the easier it is to deal with each other as individuals rather than
stereotypes. Of course, this is not a magical solution to
centuries of conflict, but it's a start.