Going Gender Neutral – is it a good thing?

Recent news articles have reported on the ‘gender neutral‘ baby (whose parents are not telling anyone what sex their child is), and the gender neutral playschool in Sweden.  In both these examples, the enforced neutrality is around avoiding stereotyping of the child/children and the possible negative ramifications that can flow from that stereotyping.

With two young daughters, I am all for equality of opportunity .. I want them to know that they can do anything they set their hearts on (within the usual constraints of competence, natural talent, hard work etc).  So anything that removes bias and stereotyping must be a good thing??

Well yes, but there’s a big BUT.

Men and women are different; physically, biologically, and in many cases emotionally.

And yes, these differences have resulted in many awful examples of systemic discrimination and bias across the ages.  In particular, the issue of childbearing (and rearing) has stalled and stopped many a promising career. There are also flow on effects around ghastly abuse of the resulting disproportionate power.

But for all of that.. There are more and more examples of women who’ve made it to the top job. And an increasing number of examples of where the characteristics of the woman in the top job have had a softer feel and this has only added to their appeal. Think – Anna Bligh in the horrific Queensland floods earlier this year.

Surely as life becomes ever more complex, and roles become more blurred than ever – we should be celebrating the gender differences in the workplace and play to those as strengths rather than seeing them as something to be eliminated. You’d like to think avoiding stereotyping will change the world and that discrimination will cease forever, but I think I’d rather live in a world where my daughters be who they want to be, go where they want to go – because of who they are rather than in spite of it..

What do you think?

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