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Scholar lectures on navigating gender bias

A Brandeis WSRC Scholar, Edie Chears, Ph.D., shared advice for women navigating gender bias in the workplace on Tuesday in Lieberman-Miller Lecture Hall. Chears, a researcher on women’s advancement and improving human performance, lectured about her findings on gender-based obstacles to a room of nearly 30 women and two men.

Chears’ presentation was centered around four major strategies: unexpected demonstrations of excellence, redirecting bias, intentional agency and awareness of women’s organizational wisdom. Chears paired related sub-issues with possible “workarounds.” With each major strategy, she connected anecdotes from women of different professions and connected the women’s learned responses with the workarounds.

“In the time where the #MeToo Movement has highlighted harassment that women have to endure and continue to endure, when we’re talking about giving advice, it’s not always about sexual harassment,” said Chears. “But, those conversations brought these issues back to the forefront so that now there’s a focus there.”

Many women are unaware that gender-based discrimination occurs in the workplace, according to Chears. She said that many women ignore the gender-based obstacles they face and that it can work against their progression within their field.

“We need to have more awareness for women who are aspiring to be leaders. One of my leaders said she thought the world was her oyster,” said Chears. “Well, we should all think that the world is our oyster, but we should all know that there are people who think that the world is not [a woman’s] to command.”

The International Women’s Leadership Association deemed Chears “Top Female” in 2015 and she was named “Woman of the Year” by The National Association of Professional Women. Chears has been the President and Senior Training Consultant of Mind Over Matter Instruction, Inc. (MOMI), which she says she intentionally pronounces like the word “mommy,” for over 21 years. She is currently writing a book on tools and devices to help women aspiring to enter leadership roles within their fields and who are facing gender bias and gendered racism.

Chears ended the lecture by asking the audience to write down personal experiences or tips on how they combat sexism for her upcoming book. Five women then told their experiences to the room and the solutions that they found to be most effective. Chears then gave the audience the opportunity to write down their contact information if they wanted to be interviewed for her book and wanted to share tactics that they use to form situational responses.

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