Who is behind the Woman in the Room?
At a time when headlines are dominated by the alleged lewd acts of Harvey Weinstein, Bill O'Reilly and Terry Richardson, an anonymous movement has sprung up called "The Woman in the Room," which aims to shine a light on gender bias in the workplace by distributing posters and stickers to offices in tech, advertising and media.
"Yep, gender bias is real, and we women have to deal with it every day—you know, things like getting called 'girls' when we're clearly post-pubescent," read an anonymous letter sent to Ad Age and signed by "some women in tech" that accompanied the posters. The letter noted that "calling out sexist behavior shouldn't be a woman's full time job. We already have one of those."
In recent weeks, dozens of women, including actresses such as Gwyneth Paltrow and Angelina Jolie, have stepped forward to accuse once-celebrated producer Weinstein of both harassment and assault. By spotlighting such practices, the allegations are opening the door for similar claims, along with the social media movement #MeToo of women vocalizing their experiences. Earlier this week, several designers and fashion publications, including Conde Nast, said they would no longer work with Richardson, the fashion photographer who has faced sexual harassment accusations for decades.
The Woman in the Room is not the only call to action. Cindy Gallop, the known champion of diversity, recently asked via Facebook that ad professionals voice their concerns about sexual harassers in the advertising industry. She told Ad Age last week that her inbox was flooded with responses.
The female-empowering posters, etched in eye-catching bolds of red and black, have glaring missives including, "Don't Re-state My Idea As Your Own," "If I'm Here, I'm Qualified" and "I Don't Need It Man-splained." A website thewomanintheroomproject.com allows supporters to download more options, but representatives did not respond to an emailed inquiry via a Gmail account listed on the site. While the return address on some posters was 96 Ninth Ave., home to Google in New York, a Google spokesman did not return a request for comment.
Both men and women have taken to social media to bolster the effort under the hashtag #thewomanintheroom.