Even the boy's mother assumed he was joking when he asked which of the people they had just met was the CEO.
Sexism is deeply ingrained in most of us thanks to years of conditioning and it's important to fight against it. Recognizing the problem and accepting it exists are the first steps in correcting sexism. A lot of hope rides on the younger generation of people, as Kayce McEwan discovered. McEwan is a global human resource leader at agribusiness J.R. Simplot Company, and a seemingly simple interaction with her son served as an eye-opener for her. McEwan was at a football game with her two 18-year-old sons when she saw her company’s CEO, a man, and his spouse, at the same game. They walked towards her and greeted McEwan and her sons. Just as the couple walked away, Kayce told her sons that was the company’s CEO. “Without missing a beat, my son asked, ‘Which one?’ I smiled at him, and he stared at me blank-faced, waiting for my answer,” wrote the Idaho-based mom on LinkedIn.
McEwan thought her son was joking but the moment of silence proved to a moment of revelation for McEwan. It hit her that sexism was so ingrained that she had assumed her son was joking when he asked her to clarify whom amongst the man and wife was actually the CEO. “As much as I believe women can do ANYTHING they set out to do, I may deep down hold my own unconscious bias that assumes—and believes others assume—that if it’s a CEO, it must be a man. Scary, right?”
McEwan felt hopeful about future generations reversing years of conditioning. “The generations entering the workforce today don’t see gender, don’t see race, don’t see sexual orientation… They see a person and will judge that person on their contribution and not on anything else. Exciting, right?” She finally added that she was grateful for having such people in her own life. “How blessed I am to have an amazing husband and two incredible sons who see their wife/mother as a leader who can and will tackle what’s put in front of her. They KNOW that women can do it!! Lucky, right?” she concluded.
McEwan shared the post on International Women’s Day but it's a message that's meant for all year round. "Happy International Women’s Day to the wives, mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, and nieces ... and to the men that support and encourage them. #internationalwomen" wrote McEwan. The post received an overwhelmingly positive response. "You have to be proud and should be happy to celebrate your sons' awareness and hearts! As a proud son of a strong/ solid mother, brother of my amazing sister, on many levels, and as a parent of 4 kids of which comprises of 3 future women leaders/contributors, on their own journey: All I can say is Yes!" wrote Regan Smith. Another person credited her for raising her sons to not discriminate, "The kudos belong to you and your husband for raising your child to see past the gender, race, or any of the completely non-influential factors for leadership." Another commented, "Kayce, that response reflects more favorably on you than your son. Good job! At 18, he has a bright future with that perspective!"