21 Opportunities to Practice Feminism at Work

These ideas were first shared by @CVHarquail at a panel discussion on Everyday Leadership at In Good Company, a women’s co-working space and entrepreneurship community, in June of 2015. This list was updated by CV and Lex in 2016. Please help us add to the list in the comments and download a PDF to post at your workplace or desk! 

  1. Use your work role to practice feminism. Every job and every project holds opportunities for you to put your values into practice. Look for opportunities in your everyday work. (Check out FAW’s Feminist Project Canvas and Feminist Job Design exercise.)
  2. Follow the leadership of other women, especially women of color, at work and in the world. You don’t always have to have your hand on the tiller. Pull the laboring oar, too. See our100.org.
  3. Buy products from companies that support women, girls, and social change. BuyUp Index is a great guide. Buy and use explicitly feminist products (e.g., Thinx, Luna Pads, Bumble). (Look to FAW’s Feminist Product Design Canvas for ideas for your business.)
  4. Get a subscription to LiisBeth: FieldNotes for Feminist Entrepreneurs. Share their articles with colleagues.
  5. Use respectful, inclusive language. See Everyday Feminism for specific vocabulary and A Progressive’s Style Guide for usage guidelines.
  6. Affirm, Acknowledge and Amplify: Use examples from members of underrepresented groups when you speak with colleagues about business processes and outcomes that you admire.
  7. Use social media to amplify new feminist voices. (Follow us on Twitter.)
  8. Know how to reply to other people’s basic “Feminist 101” questions – and also offer them weblinks when they need to learn something. Send them to Crunk Feminist Collective, BlackFeminism 101, Julie Pagano, Geek Feminism wiki, AboutFeminism, OneBlackGirlManyWords, as a start.
  9. Read feminist economists and feminist management theorists. (See FAW’s Influences page for recommendations.)
  10. Dress how you want to feel, not how someone tells you to look. Dress queer, dress femme, dress formal, dress casual. Confront gendered norms of dress.
  11. Watch your own ‘invisible work’ and ‘emotional / relational labor’. Publicly acknowledge this work by others.
  12. Use and share with others some pro-feminist, pro-justice imagery. (e.g. screensavers, icons, avatars, passwords like “EqualityForAllPeople#!” and “It was never a dress”.)
  13. Rethink and publicly question what your organization’s management processes value. Are you a masculinist, ‘objective’ “Get-To-Done” culture, or would you be more effective if you were motivated also by feminist values of process, collaboration, and care?
  14. Address wage issues of non-managers. Think about the gender wage gap, yes, and beyond it. Consider how all employees should be paid a living wage for their valuable contributions.
  15. Set feminist guiding principles for culture and team interaction (check out DoubleUnion’s model.)
  16. Insist on Codes of Conduct for all conferences, panels, and workshops that you attend. (See examples of “how to” from Ada Initiative, Geek Feminism blog)
  17. Invite ideas for making your office furnishings and space less masculine, more inclusive of all genders and social groups in your organization. Sapna Cheryan demonstrated that adding more feminine decor to computer science classrooms increased women’s sense of professional belonging.
  18. Follow great examples of companies and managers practicing Feminism. CEO Danielle Applestone of OtherMachine “screens potential employees for a quality she calls “technical empathy” — a capacity to think about product design beyond technical merits and emphasize a “connection” with the needs and capabilities of consumers and co-workers. OtherMachine demonstrates its mission to democratize technology in its own internal systems, by democratizing and de-gendering creative processes. It sees its products as educational tool s that not only generate profit but also change lives. (See FAW’s Feminist Product Canvas for ideas on how to develop products.)
  19. Track progress using conventional gender and diversity metrics, because specific metrics are useful even when they don’t capture all the changes we seek. Track pipeline metrics (e.g., # employees, hiring comparisons) as well as outcome metrics (e.g., performance evaluations, wage comparisons). Follow the example of Tracy Chou at Pinterest.
  20. Empower mentors and allies for under-represented groups. Give employee interest groups time to meet and opportunities to contribute as a group. (See Jennifer Brown’s work on Employee Resource Groups.)
  21. Enact activist crowdfunding. In “Leaning In or Leaning On? Gender, Homopily, and Activism in Crowdfunding,” Jason Greenberg and Ethan Mollick studied Kickstarter data. They found that all female technology campaigns received total funding at twice the rate of all male and mixed gender teams, because of the work of small groups of activist women. (via PlumAlley)

Download and print a PDF version of this listShare it with your friends and team members.


21 Opportunities to Practice Feminism at Work

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2 thoughts on “21 Opportunities to Practice Feminism at Work

  • January 6, 2017 at 5:02 pm

    Excellent list! Thanks for posting this Lex. I will definitely use it to frame my work and share it with my colleagues.


  • January 6, 2017 at 7:05 pm

    Thanks Alyson — Let us know how it’s useful to you and your colleagues.

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