"I'm a woman and I want more women in power. But I also have a young son. What do I say to him?"
That is a question I hear time and time again from moms in my audiences.
And I get it. I have an 8 year old son that I want to grow up to do amazing and magnificent things too!
With all the much-needed and deserved focus on women's empowerment, advancement, and equality, some people may wonder... what about our boys and young men?
It is an important question. Gender equity relies on lifting up ALL identities - NOT pulling others down. As women rise, I'm equally passionate about my son thriving as I am my daughter. But I know the challenges that my daughter will face that my son will not.
If the world doesn't change, I know how much easier it will be for him to "balance" work life and home life. He won't have to face the question "Will you return to work after you have kids?" He won't be called aggressive or bossy when he asserts his authority.
My daughter will.
So we must lift up all identities. While advancing women, we must also flip the coin, and see where we are failing our men. Below are some constructive ways that we can empower the men and boys in our lives WHILE bringing more women into positions of power.
Praise boys for traits beyond strength - nurturing, creativity, emotional intelligence. Avoid limiting with "act like a man."
Teach money management and life skills so boys grow into competent partners. Don't default to gender roles.
Model healthy conflict resolution. Don't belittle men for showing emotion. Encourage them to develop empathy.
Make caregiving 50/50. Split domestic and childcare duties so boys view it as normal, not "women's work."
Speak up when you see toxic masculinity. Help boys understand all emotions are valid.
Highlight positive male role models who support women as equals and allies.
Foster listening and collaboration. The days of hyper-competitive, lone-wolf leadership are over.
Advocate for paternity leave and flexible schedules. Caring for families makes better fathers and leaders.
You see, the goal isn't matriarchy - it is balance. When our sons are allies, we are collectively elevated. When women rise, it enables men to expand the definition of masculinity and wholeness too.
True empowerment means growing together. It is lifting each other. It is recognizing where we are deficient for one gender, and closing that gap (think about it! Men want parental leave to take care of their newborns too!)
I want my son to thrive just as much as I do my daughter. And I know you do too!