Sexism is real, and it is happening around us every day. When we look at the news, it’s there. When we go to work, it’s there. It might even be happening in our homes. Women need to speak up right now. Whether they’re getting sexually assaulted or being cat-called, women need to speak up.
Join Alicia Dunams as she talks to award-winning author, speaker, leadership coach, and women’s rights advocate Lynn Schmidt. Listen in as Lynn talks about her latest book, Antisexist. Learn how she is helping men and women voice their personal experiences with sexism. Find out why people need to be aware and acknowledge that they might be sexist. Join the fight against sexism today!
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Antisexist With Lynn Schmidt
I’m very excited to announce our next guest, Dr. Lynn Schmidt. She’s an award-winning author of six books, Thriving from A to Z: Best Practices to Increase Resilience, Satisfaction and Success won three literary awards as Best Book for Personal Development. Her fourth book, Shift Into Thrive: Six Strategies for Women to Unlock the Power of Resiliency won six literary awards and was listed on Inc.com as one of the top 60 books about leadership and business written by women.
Lynn’s career has been focused on developing leaders and Fortune 500 companies, nonprofits and academia. She’s an experienced executive coach, who assists men and women in creating careers accompanied by growth. Lynn has a passion for helping women across barriers, overcome barriers and achieve success. She is a frequent keynote speaker and presenter at conferences worldwide. Lynn, it’s great to have you here.
Thank you. It’s great to be here.
You are a prolific author of personal development books and leadership books for both men and women alike. I want to jump into your book, Antisexist. Let me tell our audience about the book. Antisexist provides men and women with an understanding of how sexist behaviors harm women and girls along with helpful action steps to manage sexism. The book includes powerful stories from diverse individuals that illustrate the global impact of sexism.
It explores the intersection of sexism with other biases, including racism, ableism, ageism and sexual orientation. In the books are tips given to being anti-sexist by challenging sexism, championing women’s rights and creating equality. What I love about this book, even in your description, is you talk about managing sexism. Before I ask a question about your book, what does managing sexism mean?
The research by the United Nations looked at 70 countries and over about 80% of the world’s population. They found that 9 out of 10 people, men and women, have at least one deeply ingrained bias against women and girls. It’s about acknowledging that we all have these biases. That doesn’t even count the smaller biases that aren’t as deeply ingrained as we all have. I’m willing to step out and say, “As far as I’m concerned, we’re probably all sexist to varying degrees based upon how we were raised, brought up, the media and all sorts of reasons.”People have to acknowledge that everyone is sexist to varying degrees. Click To Tweet
The first thing we need to do is acknowledge that and look within ourselves to see, “How do my biases come to life and show up every day around women?” I’ll say I’m sexist. I know how it shows up for me but I try to manage it. You can never get rid of your biases but once you are aware and they occur in your head, you can manage them and stop them from coming out of your mouth or other actions that you may take in regard to your biases.
That’s what it means when I say, “Manage your biases.” It’s acknowledging your biases, becoming aware of them and then managing them. You’re always going to think it typically but once you think it, it can send off some red flags that you can manage, so it doesn’t come out of your mouth and impact your actions and others.
I do leadership training as well. In those, our biases are essentially baked in. It’s about regulating them. Number one is being aware, regulating and then noticing, “I had that thought. Where did that thought come from? Was it something from my past the way I was brought up, the social narrative in which I live?” It’s important to distinguish that we’re going to have these thoughts and we have 100% control to be able to manage that. I want you to speak more. Let’s even go back to the beginning. You have so many books about leadership and self-development. Why did you write this book?
My interest in women’s issues started when I was a mid-career student returning to get my Doctoral degree. I had already worked in Corporate America for several years. As I rose through the ranks as a woman in leadership development, I started working more with executives. I would see the female executives come and go fairly quickly.
As I started my dissertation research, my topic for that was the factors that derail women’s careers from the voice of women. What I learned then that was important is giving others a voice because a lot of the research up until that time had been done by organizations asking men, “Think of a woman whose career had been derailed and tell us why,” versus going to the women directly.
Certainly, I admit that it is their perspective but what we want to do is to hear their perspective and give them a voice. From there, I got more involved in working with women’s issues, groups and rights. My book Shift Into Thrive is specifically for women on things that they can do to thrive when they encounter derailing factors in the workplace or life. I then went in on Thriving From A To Z, which is for everyone about thriving.
This was written during the two years of COVID when many of us weren’t going anywhere and doing anything out with other people. I started researching sexism itself, what causes it and why it happens. I would wake up every morning, get into reading the news and see so many articles that things that were happening around the world and tragedies that were being caused because of sexism.
What I found when I went to do my research and look further into it is people typically specialize in topics around sexism, which is fine. That’s important as well. You’ll find someone who maybe focuses on sexual harassment at work, being a male ally, women in violence or domestic violence and someone who focuses on discrimination in the workplace.
What I wasn’t finding was one book that gave a full picture of the full impact of sexism on men and women in the world as such and looked at it globally. That’s what this book became. It started being very different things, sexism in the workplace, all different things and then I said, “It’s important for people to have the full picture because the scope of the impact of sexism is huge.”
That’s why I wrote this book and expanded it to look at what I call the four outcomes of sexism. I wrote it because I saw a gap in the literature, the books and even the information being shared out there about the full impact of sexism on women, men and children. I even have information in the book about the monetary impacts on countries and on the world. That’s why I wrote it. I saw a gap. For me to understand sexism, I needed to pull it all together. I thought, “Everyone else needs to see the full picture as well.”
You talked about the full impact of sexism on children, women, men and the physical impact around the world. What would you see as the most alarming impact?
The most alarming impact is on women themselves and how sexism impacts their earning ability and education. Sexism keeps women from getting full education looking worldwide. Every country is a little different but it impacts that. That then impacts their earning ability and their ability to bring their full selves to the table. It impacts the number of children they have, how healthy their children are and the way their children are raised. It impacts whether or not they end up in abusive relationships. The full circle will impact their earning ability, children and all of these things.
That in turn, not having women fully engaged in the world, jobs, economy and all aspects, impacts countries, earning capability and their ability to be as financially robust as they could be. The impact maybe sounds simplistic but the biggest impact that sexism has is on women and then, in turn, how it impacts them has a huge impact on all other aspects of the world, the economy and everyone.
It’s pervasive and far-reaching. We almost can’t see the impact because it’s so baked in. A few years ago after the #MeTooMovement, one of my clients, who is a sexual harassment attorney, we did a book together. It’s called What To Say (and Do) When You Are Sexually Harassed. What she brought to the table was very much from an employee’s perspective. She talked about all the gray areas in between. It has to be pervasive, you need to document and all of that. What I brought to the table in 15% of the book was what to say.
That’s something that I’m cultivating even more in the book I’m working on but it is what to say to be empowered and it’s the following script. There’s a line of decency and you crossed it, “I asked that you stopped now.” I share all of this to say as we ended up taking that book down, it’s not available on Amazon anymore because what we found is that sexual harassment prevention dating, when managers and HR bring it on, needs to be from the manager or the company’s perspective. We found that they didn’t like that the book was very much empowering the employee.
It is What To Say (and Do) When You Are Sexually Harassed, so they’re like, “This is going to be a problem on our hands.” We decided on the positionality of the book, where it came from, the empowerment of employees and powering with their voice. We took it down and did training in corporate. I’m going to include that in my next book. There’s a line of decency and you just crossed it.
That’s powerful because sometimes even the words alone, women or targets of any type of harassment don’t have access to that. I wanted to share that story because we were talking about how pervasive it is and how even you think people, HR and systems are trying to help you and protect you but they’re out to protect the bottom line. They want to avoid any type of agency or empowerment amongst targets of sexual harassment.
I’m grateful for your book to be examining this. I want to talk a little bit about the physical and financial impact that you speak of. How is this impacting? We could even talk about what’s going on in the world if you’re open to it. Before we go move on, I want to let everyone know that Antisexist is available on Amazon.com. I encourage you to go purchase the book. Are there any other favorite places to purchase the book that you have?
It is available about everywhere online you can look. If Barnes and Noble is your favorite place, Bookshop.org or wherever it might be online. You can find it pretty much anywhere. You could always ask a bookstore or a library to order it. It’s available. My distributor has access to all of those sources.
What’s another lesson from the book that you want to share, a piece of important feedback or lessons for us to know?
This is my sixth nonfiction book. One thing my PhD program helped me learn is the three aspects of shaping a nonfiction book. When I talked about the book presented the full picture of sexism, what I struggled with for several months and I had a white paper that was pasted over my walls and everything was everything I saw going on in sexism.
That was related to sexism for women. Whether it was on the job, off the job or anywhere in the world, I started creating long lists because I knew I had to create some framework to help make this understandable for people so that they could see the full picture but not be overwhelmed and have me presenting all non-related information.
What I learned as I created this framework is what I present as the four impacts of sexism in this framework. They aren’t in any particular order but there’s a microaggression and I have six examples of that. That’s the slurs, put-downs or things we may take for granted that we say about people, whether it’s calling someone a Karen or, “Look at me if someone says you’re having a blonde moment.” Some things are said about women that would never be said about men. They’re referred to as microaggression but there’s certainly nothing micro about them.Microaggressions are things that are said about women that would never be said about men. There's absolutely nothing micro about them. Click To Tweet
From there, the second category is discrimination. How are women discriminated against? You may think about the workplace but I had six categories that I found where the discrimination against women was very significant. It included educational discrimination, health discrimination, workplace discrimination, hiring discrimination, things that led to promotions, those types of things and then sexual discrimination.
The third category was harassment. Initially, someone might go straight to harassment in the workplace but there are street harassment, cat-calling and those sorts of things. Women experience forms of harassment everywhere they go and in everything they do. The fourth category was violence, where I covered six different aspects and types of violence.
People’s minds might initially go to domestic violence but there’s coercive control where a woman may never be hit but the man is managing her finances. She’s not allowed to have credit cards. She may not be working. He has complete control over her. There’s coercive control. There is domestic or sexual violence. There are various types of violence.
These are the four categories for the framework that show the whole picture. I learned a lot through that. I had to gather so much overwhelming information, simplify it and make it easy for others to understand. The other thing I learned through the dissertation I talked about was giving a voice. The book contains stories written by men and women that are their accounts of how they’ve dealt with or got caught in the sexism trap.
It’s their personal experience. I gave these individual voices. In between the data chapters and the chapters that I write specifically to the four areas of the framework are personal stories written by others where they’re sometimes sharing their incredibly tragic stories about sexism and how they overcame them.
What I have done in my day job for many years is help people write books. I have a program called Bestseller in a Weekend. Writing a book is an amazing, powerful and effective way to codify your framework and how you went through that process. You came up with four sections of your framework and then you needed to research each one of those. Even the process of writing your book supported you in learning more, being able to systemize this content so others can consume it, making you very much an expert on the subject and the author of the book.
This is a fascinating conversation. This is sometimes where the problems of the world feel so vast that there’s sexism. We probably all have a sexism bone in our body or some thought that we have. I always had an issue with stay-at-home moms. It’s like you notice and regulate that thought, “What makes you think that way?” Thinking that women that work and this is pervasive in social media or the world media in general, maybe provide more value than women who stay at home. That might be a bias that’s out there. It’s a belief system that we feed into.
What do you say to people who say, “This is the way the world is?” It’s like a pendulum swing or Roe v. Wade. It passes and many plus years later, it’s overturned. Also, this penalization that happens in the world like #MeTooMovement. It penalizes to men who are going to hire women or invite them out for drinks after a deal. There’s a lot of, “It is what it is,” type of thinking. What do you say about that?
Sometimes it’s talking with the individual to get them to see some personal experiences that they’ve either had or someone close to them has had that happened because of sexism. You can still do that online and in various ways but there are so many examples. That’s where people don’t see the breadths and the overall impact. There are so many ways that sexism impacts women and girls, like talking with someone and helping them see some examples that have impacted their life or others’ life.
Since I’ve been writing this book and having this focus, I wake up and look at the news on my phone. I can go to Twitter or anywhere. All of a sudden, I’ll see tons of stories that are tied in some way, shape or form to sexism. We have what’s going on in Iran. We have all sorts of things that are happening but every day, you can wake up and see those. As your awareness becomes broader and more open, you start to see it everywhere. That also can be helpful for people as they become more aware. It starts by having them reflect upon some examples of the ways that you might have sexist biases.
What are their sexist biases? Where did those come from? Sometimes it’s talking to people about things that they may take for granted, such as Disney movies. They’re getting better. The original Little Mermaid was told she had to keep her mouth shut if she wanted to get a husband. It’s pervasive everywhere. As soon as you can help people, maybe show them a few examples. Maybe then they can start looking and reflecting on the way that they may be surface sexist biases, which they’ve experienced in their family or the media.
Other things are the data. The data shows that, for example, the percentage of women in management has been 27% for 25 years worldwide. You can look at America and maybe America’s numbers have bumped up a little over the last few years but if you look at it in totality, it comes and goes a little bit but it’s been 27% for the last 25 years. Even people that are saying, “It’s improving and sometimes it steps back,” I start the book with an example from Homer and his writing about the odyssey. That was one of the 1st examples in writing 3,000 years ago when Penelope was silenced by her son because she was a woman.The percentage of women in management has been 27% for the past 25 years. Click To Tweet
You can go back to the beginning of time and show examples of sexism. You can look to the present time and show so many examples of sexism. There are always people who are going to be in denial about it and say, “It doesn’t exist. It doesn’t happen.” The patriarchy is a system. Both men and women can support the patriarchy like both men and women can support feminism.
As I interviewed and talked with women, the thing that was most shocking to them was when another woman was sexist. I simply try to explain that women certainly be sexist. Most of us are but some women won’t manage or address it because they are writing on the power of the coattails of the patriarchy of men and they feel that will benefit them. I give examples to people that show that it’s not ebbing and flowing. It’s there. It’s deeply rooted and sure it will pop up when women will rise. It’s been there forever. It’s there and impacts women in many ways all the time, everywhere.
It’s part of our daily journey. Our daily opportunity for growth is something that will pop up for us to be challenged by and grow from. I want to jump over to the speed round and ask you some questions, a little bit about what has influenced you. You will tell me the first thing that comes to your mind. What is your legacy?
My legacy is my research and the books. I’ve always been a heavy reader but that’s why I write. The legacy is the work that I’ve done in providing the information that’s in these books. To help people is their purpose of them.
What is your favorite book?
As far as fiction goes, The Lord Of The Rings series is my favorite book.
Who is your favorite author?
Tolkien because those are my favorite books.
What are you reading next?
It ties to the next book of what I’m reading next. I love to do fiction, mysteries and some historical fiction. I’m Elizabeth’s fan at that time. I do a lot of reading on that. I’m beginning to percolate on a book that would be my first venture into fiction. I’m thinking there’s so much happened to women in the Vietnam era. I’ve researched and found a few women who were doing some very interesting things during that time. That would be giving them a voice because many may not have heard of them.
I’m thinking about starting to do some significant research about the Vietnam era towards the end of the 60s and early 70s, that timeframe and tying those pieces together but honing in on women, what they were doing, women’s rights but also tying that to Vietnam and women who were involved in Vietnam. That would be historical fiction. That’s what I’m thinking about next as far as diving and research reading.
Everyone at home, you can buy Antisexist at your local bookstore, wherever you like to purchase your books. Lynn, I want to jump back in. Is there anything that you want to share, anything on your heart something that’s important for you to share with our audience reading about your book Antisexist and perhaps the state of the world?
I feel it’s important to acknowledge that we are all sexist in some way, shape or form. The impact on women and girls of sexism is horrific. From microaggressions, discrimination, harassment and to violence, it’s huge and impactful. It’s important to share that, acknowledge and leave with a statement that is useful to women or even men. You see other men being sexist. It’s simply to say, “What did you mean by that?” Do that and then pause.
Give them time to respond. When they respond, don’t respond to the person, unless they said it to you. Respond with, “This is how it impacted me.” It’s simple. It can take the pressure off of some folks who may feel uncomfortable standing up for themselves and with certain people. You’re maybe a coworker or a boyfriend. Who knows? You may feel uncomfortable being very direct. “What did you mean by that?” Wait until they explain and then say, “This is how it impacted me.”
I was sharing with you about writing books about conscious communication and scripts. The next book that I’m writing is called How to Talk to Your Enemies. It’s about real-time responses and scripts on what to say in all different varieties of circumstances, racism, microaggression, harassment, sexism and conflict resolution. If you’re open to talking to me more about that and I could perhaps use that script in the book, giving full credit to you and what you’ve done because that’s powerful. “What did you mean by that?” That’s an open-ended question. Everything is not just the words but the tone you use and getting curious.
Being able to share the impact that it created. The second part of that phrase was pausing, letting them respond and being able to say, “This is how it impacted me.” That’s a powerful script that you came up with. I feel that our responsibility as leaders and people living in this world is that perhaps something that we say can support someone else in thinking about the impact that they make with their words and actions. We get to be a disruption.
There are a lot of people who are saying things because it’s what they’ve been saying and what they do. How can we use our words to create change? I’ll get to follow up with you about our potential interview. That’s very powerful because the words you use can impact change and that’s how we’re going to change the world one conversation at a time. It starts with your book. With that, I would love for you to share how people can find out more about you, your books and the work that you’re doing in this world.
It’s available online, everywhere. My distributor has access to Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Bookshop.org. I’m pretty much anywhere online. If you support a certain local bookstore, you can go in and ask them to order it because the distributor that I use is connected to local bookstores and libraries. People can get it anywhere in those venues. I’m on a lot of social media sites. I have an author’s page on Facebook. I’m on Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn. You can find me in all those locations as well.
With that all said, what is one piece of advice you want to leave us?
It’s wonderful to interview you and learn about the work that you’re doing and your powerful book, Antisexist. It gets to be talked about. This is something that is not going away and we can make it better each day by how we respond, manage and regulate our biases.
Thank you for having me on.
Thank you everyone for reading this episode. We will see you next time. Be well.
- Thriving from A to Z: Best Practices to Increase Resilience, Satisfaction and Success
- Shift Into Thrive: Six Strategies for Women to Unlock the Power of Resiliency
- What To Say (and Do) When You Are Sexually Harassed
- Barnes and Noble – Antisexist: Challenge Sexism, Champion Women’s Rights and Create Equality
- Bestseller in a Weekend
- The Lord Of The Rings
- Facebook – Lynn Schmidt
- Instagram – Lynn Schmidt
- Twitter – Lynn Schmidt
- LinkedIn – Lynn Schmidt
About Lynn Schmidt
Highly accomplished and experienced talent management executive, consultant, and coach focused on helping women achieve success. A results oriented leader with demonstrated impact on improving talent management processes and impacting business results. Selected as one of The Women of the Year in Idaho.
Demonstrated success across multiple industries including telecommunications, manufacturing, retail, technology, financial services, aerospace/defense, insurance, and health care. Global experience in implementing talent development solutions in North America, South America, Europe, and Asia. Received a Talent Leadership Award at the World HRD Congress in Mumbai, India.