If there’s one conversation I had the most of this year as president of Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association — Indiana Chapter, it hands down would be the following, which varies little: Mid-career women telling me that they are frustrated. They are doing everything right to try to move up and on at their companies and day jobs. They are staying late at work, giving 150%, saying yes to extra assignments, and giving back both inside and outside of their organizations. They are also going back to school, polishing their skills, and continuously adding credentials to their quiver of education and experiences.

And yet, they keep on getting passed over for promotions, time and time again. They’re stuck.

Gender equality is 170 years away, according to the World Economic Forum. That’s a terribly long time, and it’s depressing to think that I’ll never live to see gender parity in my lifetime. Furthermore, I’ll be honest and admit that this number sometimes feels more like 500 years in the Midwest. (Yes, I’m from the Midwest, so I can criticize.) But, if we first never recognize the problem, we’ll never fix it.

So, after countless frustrating conversations, to watching hundreds if not thousands of promotions of let’s face it — white men — in my area of healthcare and life sciences, I joined HBA Indiana this year and jumped in as a leader to try and fix this problem. And let’s keep it real here, it IS a problem.

Our event coming up on 6/13/17, Manbassadors: A Man’s Way with a Woman’s Touch, will address this problem head on, by involving EVERYONE in the conversation — men and women. However, there are three issues I want to address here before you make your mind up to attend, if you’re in the Indy area and so inclined.

What is a manbassador? Read my previous article on the definition here.
  1. We are NOT saying that manbassadorship means ultimately 100% women at the helm — Some believe that being a feminist also means being a misandrist. Some believe gender parity means a goal at the end of 100% women running everything. Personally, I do not stand behind these definitions at all. And gender parity to me does NOT mean 100% women at the helm either. I just mean that gender parity should really be about giving EVERYONE an equal shot at promotion or leadership — REGARDLESS of what skin color, gender, race, creed or sexual orientation s/he represents or identifies with. Manbassadors also I hope believe this — that we’re all working together here for diversity and equal opportunity as the ultimate goal, not with an ultimate goal of 100% women or 100% men and complete exclusion of one gender or the other.
  2. Gentlemen— we need you to be part of the conversation and course of correction too — the ladies cannot do this alone. It takes all of us to jump into this conversation in order to promote diversity and gender equity. That means men and women need to mentor and sponsor young women (and men). That also means that we need to recognize our stereotypical and deeply rooted cultural biases too — like men interrupting women as one tiny and studied example. When even female Supreme Court justices were interrupted nearly 66% at the Court in all of 2015 (and we only have 3 SCOTUS women), that’s not good. That’s a deep cultural bias that we all need to be aware of and start correcting. That includes everyone in the correction — men and women.
  3. Ladies — we can’t help you if you don’t attend — One thing one of my male mentors shared with me recently about mentoring women is that they tend to put themselves last. That means, they don’t show up for their own career development. Sometimes, it’s just not a priority. So, while HBA Indiana and several other organizations are working very hard to serve their members and provide tools on how to achieve gender equity in healthcare and life sciences, we can’t really help if you don’t attend our event on 6/13. We can’t virtually plug how to find mentors and sponsors into your brain remotely. That really means that we all need to show up if we really want to learn how to take our careers to the next level through mentoring and make it a priority.

I’ve had a series of really interesting conversations the past few months about this Manbasssadors movement, and I’m really proud to be part of it. We need everyone in the conversation, and the goal is not to have one gender take over another — just equal opportunity. The HBA Indiana board has worked very, very hard on putting this event together for all our members next week, and our event is open to all — men and women, members and nonmembers, all races, all creeds, all orientations.

I do hope you’ll join us, and consider this my personal invitation for you to attend. I hope we see you next week.

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Dr. Erin Albert is president of HBA Indiana, a pharmacist/lawyer/author/entrepreneur/podcaster/STEM Advocate and a big believer in gender parity. Follow her at Twitter for the countdown to the next HBA signature event.

*Note that Dr. Albert shares her opinion and her opinion alone in this article. Her opinions are not necessarily shared by the companies she represents, works for, or serves in a non-profit volunteer capacity.