We’ve all become accustomed to the double standards for women at work, and yet another study has more to say: social climbing works for men but backfires spectacularly for women. 

This isn’t the only double standard we face—there are a crazy number of them. Everything from middle-aged women being less liked than their male counterparts to men gaining points for pleasant chit-chat during negotiations, but heaven forbid a woman turns on the charm!

I, for one, am tired of it. I’m tired of being patted on the head as though I’m a cute little girl who doesn’t have any expertise or knowledge, of being talked over in meetings or, worse, not being invited at all, of being mansplained, and of not being taken seriously when it comes to business growth, something I do incredibly well. 

I’m tired of men taking the PESO Model™ and acting as if they created it, and, when called out about it and asked to give credit, they feign ignorance or claim I’m not the creator, even when presented with the legal documents.

These are all things that happen, if not daily, at least weekly. And don’t get me started on the sexual harassment and micro-jokes. It’s exhausting, y’all!

But this isn’t an article bashing men. On the contrary! We will discuss what men and women can do to turn around the double standards and ensure equality at work and at home.

Some Common Examples

Raise your hand if this has happened to you, you have unintentionally done it, or you’ve watched it happen:

  • A woman presents a webinar. She started the conversation by asking people to drop questions into the chat so she could answer them all at the end. As the questions come in, though, her male colleague answers them in real-time.
  • Along the same lines, a woman is presenting to her team of colleagues when a man consistently butts in to add his two cents.
  • A woman presents her thoughts on a new initiative, and a man interrupts and says, “Oh, I already thought of that…” and then takes over.
  • A woman helps someone in a private community, and a man swoops in with his recommendations, without context or background information. 
  • A woman makes a suggestion or recommendation, and a man in the room asks what everybody else thinks. But when a man makes a suggestion or recommendation, the same question is not asked of everyone else in the room. 
  • A woman presents an idea, and a man steps in and says, “What she means to say…” when it isn’t at all what she meant to say.
  • A woman returns from maternity leave to have her boss or male colleague say he likes how motherhood has calmed her.
  • A woman is asked in a meeting to take notes or get coffee or help clean up, while no one would ever consider asking a man to do this. A few months ago, I was in a client meeting when the CMO asked who would take notes, and a woman volunteered. I piped up and said, “I’m sorry, but she took notes at the last meeting. How about <male colleague> do it for this meeting?” After the meeting, I called her and told her to never do that again. 
  • A woman contributes fresh and innovative ideas in staff meetings and is talked over or ignored, while a man does it and is enthusiastically embraced. As an aside, this one happens A LOT. Pay attention in the next meeting you’re in and see how often it happens.
  • A woman presents a proposal to male prospects only to have them ask at the end of the meeting when they will meet her male partner or colleagues. 
  • A woman presents to a male client, and her male colleague jumps in and takes over, assuming the male client only wants to hear from the men on the team.
  • A woman is mulling over a challenge and presents some thoughts to her team, only to have the men jump in to solve it for her. 
  • A woman creates a model that an industry uses and a man tells her how it works in real situations, as if she has no experience with it in the real world. 
  • A woman plays golf with her clients—and wins—only to have one of the male clients melt into a temper tantrum because he lost to a “girl.” 

Men Just Assume They’re Better

Then there are all the examples we see or hear daily: men talking over women, men interrupting women, men mansplaining, and men taking credit for a woman’s work. 

But my absolute favorite of all time is when a woman sports pro is told by a man that they can beat her at tennis, golf, basketball, whatever it happens to be…just because they are a man. 

This recently happened with a professional PGA player when she was at the driving range. It happened with Serena Williams when a report showed that one in eight men thought they could beat her. One in eight! 

And it happens to me ALL THE TIME when men find out I race my bicycle. Listen, dude, you might be able to beat me off the line because you’re bigger than me and have testosterone, but I guarantee I will leave you gassed and in my dust shortly thereafter. My power-to-weight ratio will beat your beer-guzzling butt every, single time.

These are all examples of things that still happen in 2024. And don’t even get me started with all of the stories that happen to women when they leave for and come back from maternity leave.

Yes, some things have changed and yes, some men have got it together. But the fact that any of this—and the double standards I mentioned at the start—are even part of the conversation shows we have a lot further to go.

Well-Intentioned Is Not Equality

I recently had a situation where a client sent me an article he had written. He wanted my thoughts on it. Knowing it was about celebrating the women in his life, I was excited to read it. As I read through it, though, I got more and more angry.

You see, it was about celebrating the women in his life, but he was going about it all wrong. He made it completely about him versus about the women. For instance, he talked about all of the sacrifices his wife made so he could focus on work, traveling 48 weeks out of the year, and his bike racing hobby. He went on to say that he trained for and rode the perimeter of the United States, which is AWESOME if you don’t have family and work obligations. It’s more than 11,000 miles and typically takes nearly six months. In the next sentence, he said, “She and I are equal partners.”

I saw red. He essentially left his family either to travel for work or to be gone on his bicycle for six months while his wife gave up her career to support him. 

I stopped reading, called him, and politely ripped him a new one. Not only was it incredibly selfish of him to say that she had given up her career and her dreams to stay home with their kids, he had the audacity to call them partners. 

Oh my gosh! I’m getting hot all over again!

“I’m a Feminist!” Is Not Equality

The challenge, of course, is he is completely well-intentioned. He really thought he was doing something kind for the women in his life by writing this article. And he did not love me telling him he could publish it under no uncertain circumstance. 

As I talked him through why I had such a visceral reaction to his article, I found something in Harvard Business Review that I shared with him. 

“Self-professed male allies can face criticism from the women they try to ally with. As two men who write and speak about cross-gender allyship and mentorship, we’ve noticed occasional backlash from women when dudes show up at women’s events. At one recent conference for women in technology, a Bingo card was circulated by women in the audience just before a panel composed of men on the topic of male allyship. The—seemingly cynical—objective? To identify as many worn-out clichés and defensive phrases men often utter in these contexts as possible. Some eye-rolling favorites included: “I’m a feminist; We’re all in this together; My mother taught me to respect women; and, I saw the light after the birth of my daughter!”

Here’s the thing: men have inherent biases that even the most supportive can fall victim to without knowing; they undermine when they think they’re being helpful; they provide solutions when they should just listen; heck, some don’t even know how to listen. 

And while men are the most guilty in these situations, there are times when women either need to speak up or support one another, just as well. 

Here are some ways to do that:


As my ten-year-old likes to remind her friends, “We have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” Listening requires focus, sincerity, empathy, refusal to interrupt, and refusal to listen to respond. If you do this, it will inspire trust and respect, which will allow women to see you as an ally.

Focus On Support, Not Solutions

My husband, who is incredibly mindful of all of this, falls back on wanting to solve things for me. I don’t need saving. I don’t need you to solve anything. What I do need is for you to listen and support me. 

Likewise, in meetings, on webinars, and during presentations, we don’t need you to jump in to answer questions for us. We are perfectly capable of handling them ourselves. When you do this, you undermine our credibility, and people assume we don’t have the answers. Stop doing that.

One of my favorite questions is, “What do you think?” It allows me to focus on support, not solutions, and I expect the same of everyone else.

Ask Questions

I have a friend whose company has a mandatory early morning meeting every week. For her, getting there on time means finding childcare to come to the house at 5:30 a.m. once a week so she can be out the door by 6. It means she has to do all of the morning work the evening before, giving her even less time to be with her kids, playing games, reading books, and getting ready for bed. The rest of her team are married men whose wives work inside the home. It’s never occurred to them that she doesn’t have a wife at home to handle all of this for her while she goes to the office at 6 a.m. for a meeting that could easily be held at 10:30 or 2.

So ask questions: is this meeting challenging for you? Would it be easier if you could Zoom in for it? Should we change it to another time?

There may be some things that can’t be changed, but for the things that can, be flexible, ask questions, and be mindful that not everyone has a wife or partner at home.

Give Women Credit

When collecting examples from men and women for this article, most stories I heard were about men taking credit for something a woman had done. Some of those stories were because the man was malicious, but for those who are well-intentioned and want to make a difference, you can help by giving credit where credit is due.

When you introduce female coworkers, emphasize their accomplishments. Push back when women say that they’re “not ready” or “not qualified” for an opportunity—or when others say that about women.

I see this a lot personally, too. My male friends will tell a story about something that happened at home, and they’ll take credit for what their wife had done as if they were there for it and did the work. 

Don’t take credit for something your wife has done. Tell the world how wonderful she is for whatever has been done. And not that she sacrificed her career so you could ride the perimeter of the U.S. while your kids were young. Instead, make it about the things she does every day: finding a perfect gift for your parent’s anniversary, fighting with the healthcare system to get your child the treatment they need, working with the school to ensure your kids have the right tools to be successful, or finding the perfect pair of socks for your big meeting. 

Giving her the credit she deserves won’t make you look like less of a man. I promise.

Get the Most Out Of Meetings

You cannot tap everyone’s skills and expertise without full meeting participation, undermining team outcomes. It’s important to make sure everyone speaks up and is heard.

Start by encouraging women to sit front and center at meetings. If a female colleague is interrupted, interject and say you’d like to hear her finish. Openly ask women to contribute to the conversation. Be aware of “stolen ideas” and seek opportunities to acknowledge the women who first proposed them. And remember, when you advocate for coworkers, they benefit—and you’re seen as a leader.

Share In Office Housework

Pay attention to who volunteers for different types of work, and do your part to help distribute office housework equally. Pick up some yourself; it often creates opportunities to collaborate with different coworkers and develop new skills. Don’t fall into the trap of expecting women to take on stereotypical support roles like “team mom” or note taker.

And if you see a woman doing it, stop the behavior in its tracks, like I did in the client meeting when a woman volunteered to take notes.

Equality Is Not About You

Remember, it’s not about you. You don’t need to solve anything. You don’t need to be center stage. You don’t need to speak for women. You don’t have to mansplain anything. You don’t need to take action.

And for the love of Thor (as my small one would say), don’t take credit for something she did, interrupt her, answer questions for her, or insert yourself into her presentation. Ever.

Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder, CEO, and author of Spin Sucks, host of the Spin Sucks podcast, and author of Spin Sucks (the book). She is the creator of the PESO Model and has crafted a certification for it in partnership with Syracuse University. She has run and grown an agency for the past 15 years. She is co-author of Marketing in the Round, co-host of Inside PR, and co-host of The Agency Leadership podcast.

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