To Truly Reach Equality Today We Must Stop Looking At Gender Within A Binary System

By Cristina Carballo-Perelman

Men and women can not be contained within a binary system. One isn’t a zero and the other a one. Not even the differences between men and women, as described by John Gray in ‘Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus’, have been able to fully demonstrate what those differences are, mentally or physically (other than the obvious) nor how we could use them to our advantage as a species.

The waters have been even more muddied as gender identity and gender expression/role behavior have been added to our terminology to further explain sexual orientation, including transgender identities. Our physical differences no longer can be applied as the go-to explanation of these differences. And the perceived mental or psychological differences have never and no longer hold true, as has been proven in many biological and behavioral studies.

The most recent example of our misconceptions, which thankfully stirred controversy, came in the form of a Google memo that stated the false perception held by many, that women are not suited for technical positions due to their biological differences to men.

My own experiences working as a woman physician in a hospital setting, required me to, on occasion, wear a “brass balls” necklace so I could remind my male colleagues that I also had “balls” (click the link to buy the necklace from my Etsy store) and they needed to respect me as they respected their male colleagues! Unfortunately, it worked, because equity is still just a concept not a reality.

It is quite clear, using just the few examples I listed above, that we continue to lack the tools necessary to work and live together in a society based on gender equality. In the US, women are paid 33% less for the same jobs men occupy, are poorly represented in Boardrooms and even less so at the C-Suite level and sexual harassment is still prevalent in all areas of the work force, professional and non-professional. If we look further in the under-developed countries, the inequities women face can be life-threatening: in the form of FGM (female genital mutilation), child-brides, accusations of adultery and instigating their own rape, all which can result in death.

So how do we navigate the waters of men, women, transgender and everything in-between, to live together with equity in this world? How can we, as a species, unique as best we know, in the Universe, not only survive but thrive not only in spite of but because of our differences?

Obviously, the answers are not easily determined nor easy to implement, but certainly are necessary if our goal is to evolve as a species. I would like to have you consider the concept of “plasticity” as a launching pad that might allow equality of the sexes to become the norm rather than the exception.

Plasticity means the ability to change and evolve based on the environment. Plasticity allows for growth; and growth allows for change; and change is what we are seeking in how we think and act about and toward the sexes. We know that the brain of an infant has plasticity, so that if one area is damaged, other areas can learn or reprogram themselves and enable those functions to be restored through the healthy brain.

I am challenging us to allow plasticity of our left brain to change our concrete thoughts and the right brain to change our emotions towards the differences between men and women, into gender equality. This is as important as the plasticity to change our bodies if we so choose.

Plasticity would allow us to be able to interchange the roles that were, in the past, so stereotypical for each sex. By allowing these roles to be shared with each other, we begin to peel away the layers of warped perceptions and see each other for the strengths we bring to the table. So our right brain could be reprogrammed to understand each others strengths, not differences and the left brain would follow with acknowledgement, respect and appreciation for those strengths within the roles we are looking at.

Since the senses are not isolated in their integration within our nervous system, what we see, hear, feel, smell and touch would need to be reprogrammed to understand the strengths and not “see” or judge the differences. So the next question would be, how do we reprogram a brain that is already in tune to differences and the prejudices they carry rather than to the strengths and the respect these should garner?

In the US, reprogramming can be as simple as teaching to preschoolers, the basic information of what equity means and would continuing throughout the school grades with more complex ideas revolving around equity. We then could institute immersion therapies (role-plays) to teach to respect differing strengths found within each sex and require that these immersion therapies be completed successfully, prior to being hired for any job or corporate position. Of course the ultimate strategy would be for the family unit to begin to introduce the concept of respecting strengths vs targeting differences from early infancy, but that would require the parental units be “reprogrammed” already, so to speak.

In under-developed countries, the challenges to propagate plasticity towards gender equality may be more challenging, needing to counter religions, cultures and poverty. Organizations such as the United Nations may play key roles in helping other countries in this endeavor.

What would a world of respecting each others strengths, rather than focusing on our differences look like?

Expected roles would no longer be the norm. So role reversals, such as “stay at home dad, working mom”, would be a thing of the past. Everyone would bring to the table their personal strengths and all would be equal in value. Compensation for work done would not be tied to the person’s sex, but instead the value they bring. Maternal and paternal rights would be considered equal, with equal time for family granted. Corporations would have to re-direct work life and accept virtual meetings and working at remote locations, not necessarily the home office.

Professions, such as physicians, would need to re-direct and re-construct hours of work shifts that continue to value continuity of care together with a work-life balance. Telemedicine may become more accepted to promote this, with the public accepting it based on their own work/life experiences.

Sexual innuendos at work, would be considered primitive and of negative value to a work environment. Bullying would also be a thing of the past, because, again, value would be given to differences, not sameness. All of these changes would bring about a rich world of creative possibilities, where a tremendous amount of productive work could be done and an acceleration in progress in all areas would also occur.

I am not saying that instituting these changes would be easy, but I believe they would be infinitely beneficial to a better world. It’s an idea, it’s a start, to creating a better world, a world where we can advance humanity’s survival in a universe where presently, we are all we have, each other.

If you like the ideas presented above, you would enjoy a more in depth analysis in my book: “Calling All Women, From Glass Slipper to Glass Ceiling”. I have also written a book for younger girls to help them become empowered, titled: “Calling All Women, From B*tches to Witches”. Both are available on and B&





Cristina Carballo-Perelman, M.D. is a physician, wife, mother and author. Her passion involves helping others, not only through her work as a physician but through her self-help books. The topics she writes about stem from first-hand experiences throughout her life and include, women empowerment, employee rights and death.
Twitter: @ccperelman
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