A workers union in Sweden has opened a new “mansplaining” hotline that lets women call to report incidences when they receive unsolicited advice from co-workers. The initiative hopes to raise awareness regarding sexism in the workplace.
The aim of our campaign is to draw attention to discriminatory behavior in the workplace.
Sweden ranks among the world’s highest when it comes to workplace equality, placing fourth on the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Index. But a recent survey conducted by the union emphasized how female workers often feel slighted by men who think they know better and offer unwelcome help.
Zetterstrom says, “Sweden is well advanced when it comes to gender equality but much remains to be done. We want to start a discussion which we hope will be the first step in changing the way we treat each other.”
There are 20 people, both men and women, manning the hotline. One of them, Christina Knight, says she receives plenty of complaints, but also gets male callers who are worried that they might be “mansplaining” unintentionally. Knight tells them, “I always tell them: ask questions first. Start with a dialogue, instead of a monologue about something you assume a woman doesn’t know or wants to know.”
Unionen created a Facebook event to promote the hotline, along with an Instagram account where short comic book pieces on common workplace “mansplaining” are posted. While the campaign has been met with success and praise, it has attracted its fair share of critics, who have called the hotline sexist and condescending — exactly what it is trying to stop.
Zetterstrom says the intention was not to point fingers, but raise interest and educate people. She says, “Awareness is the first step towards change.”