Why Pretending You Don’t See Race or Gender Is an Obstacle to Equality

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Media Outlet: Slate

Elizabeth Weingarten wrote for our pop-up blog on Slate about why pretending to be color-blind or gender-blind ignores valuable differences between us and acts as a barrier to equality.

When Christy Johnson was pregnant and working as a vice president at a tech company, a manager made some sexist comments to her. When she confronted him, he hid behind what he thought was a bulletproof shield: As the father of two daughters, he didn’t even see gender, he said. He was “gender-blind.” “I felt dismissed,” Johnson told me.

That manager was far from alone. In Johnson’s present role as the CEO and founder of the strategy consulting firm Artemis Connection, she often hears company leaders say “they're gender-blind or race-blind because of an experience they may have had growing up in a diverse community—or having a strong mom,” Johnson said.

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Elizabeth Weingarten is the director of the Global Gender Parity Initiative, a project of the Better Life Lab where she is a senior fellow.