The Women In The Workplace 2017 study by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company reveals a few striking facts: only 1 in 5 C-suite leaders is a woman and fewer than 1 in 30 is a woman of color.
Although these statistics may be surprising, they reveal the truth about the lack of diversity and gender equality in the workplace. “Blind spots” often exist as many employees do not realize how underrepresented women are, while unconscious biases towards women are similarly prevalent and occur automatically. As a result, it becomes difficult to solve an issue that is not deeply understood or acknowledged. At the same time, such biases are not restricted to the workplace: in fact, gender biases also exist in business school and even in industries beyond the business world. For example, women in traditionally male-dominated fields such as medicine and law often similarly experience gender biases and witness the unquestioned acceptance that follows.
While men may not realize that these gender biases in the workplace are a frequent problem, an organization here at Wharton is working to encourage men’s awareness of the issue and to change the situation. Wharton 22s, cleverly named after the percentage pay gap that exists between men and women, brings this discussion to the forefront in the MBA community. The club was founded in 2014 and is currently led by Co-Presidents Steven Szalay and Neal Sengupta. Wharton Women had a chance to meet with Steve this fall to ask him about his motivations for joining the organization and its current initiatives:
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame and building an extensive career as a submarine officer in the Navy, Steve decided to make the switch to business school. He noticed examples of both overt and subtle gender biases: for example, how men are more aggressive and outspoken at recruiting events, or how men are more likely to be chosen for the role of “CEO” in classroom simulations.
One of Wharton 22s’ main initiatives is hosting small group dinners, aimed at discussing pertinent thought-provoking articles and engaging those open to learning more. On a larger scale, the organization has also hosted panels with women speakers from various industries, as well as a Diversity and Inclusion Sponsorship Event which included 60-second lectures about allyship in general. In addition, they have done collaborations with the Storytellers club and engaged men from communities such as the Veterans Club and the rugby team. Steve was particularly proud of giving interviews with authors who later included Wharton 22s as an example in their books!
Wharton 22s is currently a subset of WWIB (Wharton Women in Business) and has many goals for the future. Beyond increasing programming and obtaining corporate sponsorships to reach as many people as possible, they also hope to work with ally organizations at other MBA programs. In fact, Steve mentioned that such male ally programs are becoming commonplace across the nation, and that he is in communication with the presidents of organizations with similar missions. Ultimately, the long-term impact of the Wharton 22s will be evident with time, as men transition into the workplace and continue to uphold these values of recognizing gender bias and promoting gender equality.
Written by Lydia Chen (W’ 19) and Shreya Subramanian (W’ 21).