Last year, we published some data here at the IAPP showing that the privacy profession is, in large part, gender balanced. There are roughly the same amount of women as men working in privacy, they’re at roughly the same levels in their organizations, and, in the United States at least, they’re within about 5 percent of each other in mean pay (yeah, the guys are higher).
You gotta squint just a bit, but that looks like equality.
So, let’s take that for granted, ignoring the big pay gap for women in Canada, for example, and the preponderance of men in privacy in Europe (65/35).
Let’s just say we’ve got something that looks like gender equality in privacy here in the United States.
A lot of people are just saying that, it seems, because I’ve been asked on a number of occasions why, then, we need a Women Leading Privacy group here at the IAPP.
To which I say: Dudes! C’mon.
Perhaps you should show up to one of the Women Leading Privacy events and listen to what these women have to say. I go to every one of them at our events, and I’m usually one of the only guys there, alongside Trevor Hughes, our CEO, and maybe some other board members. This past week at P.S.R., there was one other dude.
In a room holding more than 100 people. So, about 100 women, two guys.
Well, obviously, Women Leading Privacy is for women, right? Why would a guy want to go?
Seems to me there are dozens of reasons: Wouldn’t hearing the issues women are facing in the workplace help you address them in your own workplace? Aren’t you interested in finding and cultivating top female talent? Don’t you think it would be useful to hear what women find to be the unique challenges of working in the privacy space? Don’t you want to baseline your organization’s gender-equality policies with those of other companies?
That’s why we need Women Leading Privacy.
In fact, when I sat down at my table at the event, with my Fruit Loops and strawberry yogurt, one of the women asked me what I was doing there.
I’m a feminist. Have been for a long time. These issues are important. Society runs better when everyone produces and contributes to the full extent of their abilities.
Jokingly, I held up my staff badge and let her know that it was my job. But I quickly made sure to let her know that I would have been there regardless. I’m a feminist. Have been for a long time. These issues are important. Society runs better when everyone produces and contributes to the full extent of their abilities. Systemic barriers to women succeeding, ergo, are bad for business and bad for society. And, you know, it’s the only moral and ethical stance that’s defensible.
Then she asked me if I have a daughter.
And, well, yes, I do. But that’s not why I’m a feminist.
I’m a feminist because I’ve been in the workplace for about 20 years now. I’ve seen the way many schools are staffed by women but headed by men. I’ve seen the way directors of sales are men and directors of marketing are women, and the sales pays way better. I’ve seen booth babes beyond booth babes beyond booth babes. I’ve seen women struggle to get a word in edgewise and apologize when they dare to interrupt.
And don’t get me started on what I saw in prep school and college.
I’ve been a feminist since the day I heard the term, and I know we need Women Leading Privacy, even in a “balanced” profession, because I know we’ve got a long way to go yet. A long way to go.
I’m proud the IAPP has recognized that and is happy to foster the conversation about how we get there. I’ll work hard to make sure we continue to promote the privacy profession as a place with opportunity for women. And I’ll continue to get on my soapbox every time someone asks me why we need Women Leading Privacy.
Because women say we do, and that’s good enough for me.
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