The Authority Gap

Ann Mary Sieghart teaches, chairs and writes about politics, economics and feminism. She has featured in podcasts and is a best-selling author and writer.

quick & compact

A must-read, indispensable for gaining a deeper understanding of the power differences between men and women. This book unravels the behaviours in our everyday lives that are indicative of widening the gap between men and women and unveils the roots of coexistence and togetherness.

1 Big Idea

In this book, Sieghart describes the reality of the authority bias in the world. Women are still not being respected and taken seriously to the extent that men are. This starts from a very young age, as they are expected to be silent and docile in school. Sieghart describes how this bias shows in real life situations, and what can be done about it.

2 inspiring quotes

Men are assumed to be competent until proven otherwise, whereas a woman is assumed to be incompetent until she proves otherwise.

We will be happier, healthier, richer, more fulfilled and better governed if we close the authority gap.

3 actionable takeaways

Be aware of your own bias: Pretty much everyone has some form of bias, even Sieghart herself. This is due to the embeddedness of the bias in society. This bias is often factually incorrect, and sometimes the opposite of what people expect is true, as is shown by the many research findings that Sieghart introduces. Do an implicit bias test such as https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/, and spend some time evaluating the results. Being aware of your own biases, not just gender bias, is the first step to attaining a more realistic and balanced worldview. 

Actively combat even the smallest transgressions that can be product of gender bias: This is not the first book, or series of accounts of how this bias shapes society. Although biases, such as gender bias, have been so commonplace that there are university master programs aimed at studying them, it seems that little changes. Being aware of your bias is a good start, but action is needed. Women being interrupted more often in meetings, sexist ‘jokes’, gender-based assumptions are exactly what they seem: rooted in sexism and false information. Trying to combat these inequalities are not ‘being difficult’, it is standing up for equality. And that is something that should be pursued by people of any gender and background.

Regularly check your own language use, especially to younger generations: Combatting these biases does not always have to be a loud act of defiance. It already starts with holding yourself to a certain standard of inclusive language use. This is important because it has been proven that biased language can perpetuate existing biases. Besides perpetuating your own bias, it can unconsciously create that bias in (your own) children. By paying attention to your own language use, you can slowly diminish your own bias, and play a role in preventing the reinforcement and creation of the bias in others.

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