Having The Talk: Discussing Gender Equity With Your Team

author - zara cadoux coaching

This is Zara Cadoux's 2017 UAP Conference presentation, "Having The Talk: Discussing Gender Equity With Your Team". Zara is a co-founded of USA Ultimate Girls Ultimate Movement (GUM); a driving force behind both 99 Days Of Ultimate Women (happening now!) and 28 Days Of Food, Frisbee, and Feminism; a founding member of Baltimore and D.C.-based women's club Backhanded Ultimate, and a proud alumnus of the Vassar College Boxing Nuns. She also has five years experience as a coach. 

There's been plenty of discussion about gender equity in ultimate lately, especially in online forums. But do we really know how to talk about it? Some of the heated exchanges recently suggest otherwise. 

If you're wondering how to begin talking about this with your team, our UAP Contributor Zara Cadoux gave a comprehensive talk to one of our conferences about having a constructive and healthy conversation. 

"I believe in the power of education." 

That's how she begins. Cadoux knows that different teams will need different solutions and conversations, but that education is a must for teams that want to grow in a healthy way and build relationships with each other and across their ultimate communities. In this talk, she provides a set of helpful suggestions and strategies to use when approaching and leading these conversations with your team. 

Cadoux breaks her talk out into three steps, beginning with a very important message for coaches and leadership: do your own work first. This step is filled with good advice, in particular her point about setting expectations for what you want to achieve with your team. 

There are also easy ways to identify what we tell ourselves when we want to avoid these conversations (she debunks them), tips on managing expectations with your team, and excellent working definitions for the hard questions you might receive like, "What's the difference between equity and equality?" 

In particular, Cadoux shows and adept approach to shaping these conversations for you and your team. No one approach will fit all, and one poignant part of her talk addresses how she might work with a men's team that wants to support a female or mixed counterpart but isn't sure how. 

Three Key Takeaways

  1. Have an open mind. You won't make it anywhere if your holding tightly to preconceived notions, about anything really. This is good advice for all learners. 
  2. Know how much buy-in you have with your team. You need to be attuned to your relationship with your team and other leaders before initiating or leading these talks. 
  3. Be clear about your goals. Cadoux provides a variety of goals and ways to set them, but don't initiate these conversations with your team without knowing where you want to end up. 

Parting Thoughts 

Cadoux one points getting comfortable being uncomfortable (a Tiina Booth classic lesson). One of the most difficult parts of approaching this topic (and others regarding class, race, and ability) is understanding that change is often palpable and uncomfortable. We may be more willing to try throwing a flick in a new and weird way, but we still feel the change in our body when we step out in a new way. The difference is that we often approach throwing knowing that we want to learn and having a clear motivation. Working through discomfort in a conversation about gender equity can be more of a slog, and all parties need to be aware of this. 

Don't let perfection be the enemy of progress. Cadoux says it well. Establishing a culture of equity on your team (regardless of division and age) takes incremental work. Almost all teams will need multiple conversations (and maybe multiple seasons) to build and equitable culture. 

We need these definitions and strategies now.

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If you enjoyed this piece, you'll also enjoy Ben van Huevelan's Winning with Spirit available in our library.   Join our UAP Classroom Here!