Women in the News
On Tuesday of that disquieting week, an excellent New York Times op-ed on the challenges faced by women in the legal profession hit my inbox – multiple times, through different listservs. The statistics are discouraging, but there is a roadmap towards change.
On Wednesday, I first heard about the now infamous Google memo that has sparked controversy and dialogue about women in the software industry. We have a long road ahead of us.
The Trap of Confirmation Bias
But as Christine Emba wrote in an opinion piece about that Google memo in the Washington Post on Friday, “To avoid confirmation bias and be able to make a clear case for your values, you have to be willing to hear the other side.”
Understanding = Power
As uncomfortable and disagreeable as it may be, understanding the other side ultimately gives us more power. Power to examine our own perspective for flaws. Power to revise our arguments to make them less threatening and more compelling. Power to create a narrative that has the potential to reach those who disagree with us.
In mediation, this dynamic is always present. In forging a path toward resolution, we cannot give in to the temptation to blindly paint all members of a group with the same brush. We cannot afford to default to stereotypes based on external characteristics, or to make assumptions about the other side’s abilities, experiences, or motivations. Instead, we must understand the individual. We must understand what motivates them, what will lessen their pain, what they want and what they need in order to put the conflict behind them and “move on”.
On Saturday, the skies finally cleared and everyone breathed a sigh of relief – only to have the wind knocked out of us by the news of white supremacist terrorists in Charlottesville. And yet, the unified outrage at these acts of bigotry and hatred serves as a reminder that our shared humanity far outweighs our differences.