by Serge Lashutka, M.A., M.B.A.

One of the critical skills in effectively delivering GenderSpeak is to remain gender neutral as we facilitate. One rule is to always refer to “men” and “women,” and not to say “we women (men) tend to…” or “you men (women) tend to …”

Identifying with a gender creates unease for the other gender. Remaining neutral, although difficult, is one of the biggest factors of success. During a recent GenderSpeak facilitator training session, the members of the group I was with caught themselves several times during the day as the trainees delivered their graduation presentations. One presenter while looking for a particular transparency said, “Ah, there’s that bad boy!” She immediately caught herself. Another time a participant was using a deck of cards to demonstrate gender as just one of the many ways to cut the diversity deck. Someone mentioned you could include or not include the Jokers. This caused a few comments and laughs. The presenter – in training then said, “Yes, it depends on whether he is in the deck or not!” It wasn’t until the group provided feedback that she realized she had assumed the Joker was male. Practice and feedback from others can help our certified trainers maintain gender neutrality for successful GenderSpeak facilitation.