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John Bair
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Shine Theory and How Men and Women Should Both Amplify Female Voices

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After noticing they were outnumbered and out-voiced in meetings, female staff members in the Obama Administration adopted a process called “amplification.” When a woman would make a key point in a meeting, the other women in the room would repeat it to give credit to its author. Doing so forced everyone in the meeting to recognize her contribution — eliminating the chance of someone else claiming the idea as their own.

amplificationAmplification is Ann Friedman’s Shine Theory put into practice. In a 2013 article, Friedman suggested women support and befriend other powerful women instead of resenting them. “When you meet a woman who is intimidatingly witty, stylish, beautiful, and professionally accomplished, befriend her,” Friedman writes. “Surrounding yourself with the best people doesn’t make you look worse by comparison. It makes you better.”

Through this level of support and encouragement, when one person shines, everyone shines, too.

But women should not be amplified solely by women. Men should do their part to close the gender gap through the amplification of women’s voices as well. It make take a conscious effort for some to keep it up at first, but before long amplification can be an everyday practice for both women and men. Like one former aide to President Barack Obama said: “We just started doing it, and made a purpose of doing it. It was an everyday thing.”

Women and men together can also take Friedman’s Shine Theory beyond the office by attending and supporting events that promote the same values. Women En Mass (WEM), for example, is an annual event that “… brings together the best and brightest female mass tort attorneys to discuss issues that affect women – from the boardroom to the courtroom.” This year’s event is bigger than ever, as it falls during a presidential year in which we may see the first woman elected president of the U.S.

WEM is a perfect example of organizations and events that push to ensure women are advancing, succeeding, and influencing decision making. “The world may have changed a great deal for women in America over the last 100 years, but there’s still work to be done,” the event’s website says. “And WEM is the perfect opportunity to work toward solutions that can make a positive impact on the lives of women everywhere.”

It’s everyone’s job to close the gender gap and provide equal opportunities for women and men. Taking it on as a personal task can be a small step toward huge implications for the future.