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Karen Edwards Blogger

The Unspoken Discrimination of Men (and why it Matters to Women)

Posted by Karen Edwards | August 22, 2016

Welcome to the August 2016 edition of the ÖWLI blog. Are you as hot as we are? Whew, what a summer! But the extreme heat hasn't slowed down our preparations for the Ossur Women's Leadership Conference. This is going to be an informative, inspiring, and fun event. If you haven't registered, there are only a few spots left, so make one of them yours today by registering HERE.  The conference runs Sept. 15-17 in Orlando, FL. It is free, and includes all meals and 13.75 CEU's. In addition to conference planning, we have begun planning for 2017, and those plans include creating leadership opportunities within our initiative. In 2017 we have the opportunity for 2-3 participants to write one of our monthly blogs. Additionally, we are creating an advisory board that will include two practitioners and an O&P master's student. What skills do you need to write a blog? Just an idea, research article response or opinion you believe is relevant to leadership, equality and inclusion within O&P (such as your own personal perspective within O&P or an O&P master's program). For advisory board participants, we are looking for two practitioners and one student all with a passion for our cause. All we ask is that you have time for a quarterly conference call to provide feedback and suggestions. Please reach out to us at to step up to participate as either a blog contributor or advisory board member.


The Unspoken Discrimination of Men (and why it Matters to Women)

Last month we reviewed the mission, accomplishments, and future goals of our initiative. We stated that our Initiative seeks to support and encourage diversity, inclusiveness and equality. Like the majority of people, we nearly always associate the terms "equality" and "inclusion" with women's rights. That focus, however, has led to the myth that fighting for equality is a battle of the sexes where women win at the expense of men losing. But gender EQUALITY means, just that – rights for everyone. In fact, more studies are showing that men are facing their own forms of discrimination. For example, when men attempt to participate in inclusive opportunities such as family leave and childcare, men fear they will be judged as less loyal than their counterparts who did not take this time away from work. A 2012 study of tenured track college professors found that only 12% of fathers took paid parental leave when it was offered compared with 69% of mothers. And even dads who do have the option of paternity leave, feel that they will be viewed as less committed to their jobs than other men. And this is true even more so of supervisors and other leaders who set the tone for the rest of the company.[1]  The most affected are men (and their families) who don't have the benefit of family leave. A study of working fathers by the Center for Work and Family at Boston College found that three quarters of men who don't receive paternity leave take off work for a week or less after the birth of a child, and 16% are unable to take any days off.[2]  

As Roxanne Hobbs, founder of the Hobbs consultancy wrote, "…the expectations on men in our industry can be equally damaging – we expect men to work hard, to be ambitious, to banter and be one of the boys. Being perceived as weak is the number one shame trigger in men, making it so difficult to ask for help or to admit to any mental health struggles. Research that I've carried out showed me that men are just as desperate to spend more time with their families and to take the pressure off of themselves, and in many ways this is even harder for them to achieve than it is for women.  If improving diversity is about improving the amount of difference that exists in our industry, inclusivity is about people being able to show up as themselves and to be valued for it."[3]

The most difficult part about this is that continuing to allow unconscious biases against men only perpetuates the belief that equality is a men vs. women subject, or that it is a benefit for men's wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters, but doesn't benefit men directly. And given that men still hold the majority of leadership roles, this severely affects our ability for our current leaders to buy into the need for systemic change.

The good news is more and more men are recognizing the universal benefits of gender equality. Men are seeing how equality benefits them, benefits their families, their relationships and the bottom line of their businesses. We as a women can help implement this change by being aware of our own unconscious biases, giving positive feedback to our husbands/dads/brothers/co-workers when they express emotions such as fear or anxiety, and encourage their participation in our initiatives for equality and inclusiveness and share the benefits we ALL receive when equality is achieved.

As Catalyst, a leading non-profit organization focused on accelerating progress for women through workplace inclusion, writes:

"In workplaces where gender equality is the norm, men:

  • Are free to be themselves and step outside of stereotypical ideas of what it means to be a "man" – asking for help when we need it and being free to express our emotions instead of bottling them up.
  • Are more free to be themselves.
  • Are more likely to have access to and take advantage of work life policies and spend more time with their families.
  • Have better relationships with their co-workers, spouses/partners, and children."[4]

So let's be confident in our mission to bring inclusion to the Orthotics and Prosthetics profession. It's the right thing to do, and when women win, so too will men.


Thank you, as always, for your support of ÖWLI. We hope you will take a peek below at the upcoming events calendar (including some fun LOCAL events), and we hope to see you next month in Orlando!!


MARK YOUR CALENDARS:  Reserve a spot on your schedule for the following upcoming ÖWLI events…

Aug. 25, 2016:  Local ÖWLI Roundtable Event, Chicago, IL:  Practitioners in the Chicago area are invited to join us for food, drinks, networking and lively discussion on Thursday August 25 from 6:30-9:30pm at Starbuck's Coffee, Oak and Rush Streets. Register here: //

Sept. 15-17, 2016:  Össur Women's Leadership Initiative Conference, Orlando, FL. If you haven't registered, NOW IS THE TIME! Please join us for a FIRST-CLASS education and networking event at Össur's Orlando facility.  This three-day conference is applicable to women in the O&P profession at all levels and will focus on issues relevant to female O&P practitioners as well as leadership development. 13.75 business CEU's will be offered and topics include leadership development by former Black Hawk fighter pilot Elizabeth McCormick, career development led by a panel of female O&P leaders, and the chance to network with your female peers and colleagues. Best of all, the event is FREE and includes all meals (including a super fun dinner outing on the Friday)! Register NOW as spaces are limited to 50 attendees and we are down to 8 available spaces. Click here to register:  //

Oct. 14, 2016, 12-1pm:  ÖWLI Webinar Series. Our topic this quarter is "Personal Branding." More information on the speaker and the details to come!

Until September,

Karen Edwards
Director, Össur Women's Leadership Initiative

ÖWLI Quote of the Month:  "You are present, you are a participant in society, and we are all equal." – Gina Rodriquez, American actress


Talk to us!! Your feedback is welcomed and encouraged! Please let us know what you think of our initiative, share your ideas, share your victories, or just say "hi" by emailing us at And follow us on Twitter @OWLIOssur and Facebook at Össur Women's Leadership Initiative page.

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