5 Most Thought-Provoking TED Talks On Gender Issues

For those of you who haven’t heard of TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design), I’m about to introduce you to an arena where the most intelligent, sometimes bizzarre, but undoubtedly path-breaking ideas are allowed to manifest.  It is one of the most widely followed forums, each of their speeches – with at least a couple of hundred thousand views – cause a mini revolution, even if it is just in your life. Amongst some of its most sensational talks are those delivered by the leading ladies of our time, who took the stage to propagate empowering liberating notions for women. Here is a list of 5 such talks, which will change the way you perceive the power of a woman. Binjal Shah collates them.



1. Amy Cuddy: Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are

This remains the second most  of the most popular TED Talks of all times, judging by the number of views it has  received – a staggering 26 million. Amy Cuddy is a Harvard faculty and researcher, and in her powerful TED Talk, divulges the secrets she discovered that our body language holds, in who we are. She illustrates applications of these “hacks”, to prepare you for taking on just about anything.

Key Takeaway: She has invented something called the “power-pose”, and elementary school students, retirees, elite athletes, surgeons, politicians, victims of bullying and sexual assault, beleaguered refugees, people dealing with mental illness or physical limitations (including a quadriplegic): they have all written to say that adopting a confident pose — or simply visualizing one — delivers almost instant self-assurance

Watch the full video here 



2. Cameron Russel: Looks Aren’t Everything. Believe Me, I’m a Model

This is yet another classic- if you may- in the TED universe. Cameron Russel is a decade old veteran model, and in this brutally honest delivery, she tells every aspirant how modelling is not a legit career path. She said she won a “genetic lottery” of good looks and shiney hair and long legs, and that’s all she had to do to enter this superficial industry. She tries to out the practices of the modelling world – how they feed you imagery, and ridiculously unattainable definitions of beauty- which are all a farce.  In a jaw-drop moment  – she reveals a secret about how most models feel about themselves, and how it is no different from anybody else.

 Key Takeaway: In fact, she explains how image and perceptions are so evilly deceptive in a mere 6 second span in the video, which is precisely why one should learn to look beyond such pretensions.

Watch her doing some serious myth-busting here 



3. Sheryl Sandberg: Why We Have Too Few Women Leaders

If there was an undisputed spokesperson, rather – a messiah- who has tirelessly blown the whistle for the lack of women leaders- it is Sheryl Sandberg. And this was the very topic she chose, for her first TED Talk that garnered over 5 Million views. As the Facebook COO, she pondered and pondered over why she was the exception and not the rule, when it came to seeing women in top positions. She was perhaps the first one to notice the pattern of stagnation that a woman reaches in her career, when she hits up the mid-level rung. Through her experience, she devised a theory of why women are being held back – according to her, it is because we underrate ourselves, and are under the constant pressure to do excellently to even be able to feel average. We perhaps feel the need to overcompensate , due to societal conditioning telling us that we aren’t good enough. In her talk, she coerces every woman to have the career graph of her dreams first by feeling that she is worthy of it. 


Key Takeaway: In her own words, “Sit at the table”, “Make your partner a real partner”,  “Don’t leave until you leave” -is her three step guide, that she elaborates. She’s ordering women to imbibe a fair amount of self-worth, or even perhaps cheat and inflate that. But in no circumstances should one be understate oneself.



4. Leslie Morgan Steiner: Why Domestic Violence Victims Don’t Leave

At 2.8 million views, this is one of the strongest pieces of literature on the perpetration of domestic violence that transcends education and class. Leslie Morgan Steiner was at the other end of  a very carefully plotted and executed cycle of domestic violence, and she gives you the first person account of a victim who couldn’t help but stay – which, strangely enough, is what most victims do.


Key Takeaway: The one thing that evades you, that plays the largest part in preventing you from having the desire or the courage to walk out. She explains the intricate psychological trap, and how one can break out of it to a brighter future that awaits them.


5. Johanna Blakley: Social media and the end of gender

Truer predictions have not been made. She made this pretty darn revolutionary theory about the digital revolution back in 2010, and we are seeing it unfold even as I type this very text about the pluck of women, and send it out to a universe of women readers. She believes that the internet revolution will lend a sense of individuality to its women patrons, as they are given the chance to express their desires that may not adhere to stereotypical behavior patterns based on mere demographics like age, location, profession etc. And women will be taken for what they are, and not what they are supposed to be. “Imagine a media atmosphere that isn’t dominated by lame stereotypes about gender and other demographic characteristics. Can you even imagine what that looks like? I can’t wait to find out what it looks like,” she toys with her audience, before describing how women will be liberated by the internet.


Key Takeaway: Her call for action was for all the women, to, well, be the change they want to see. She puts the onus upon the women to ensure that we  are the beneficiaries of this revolution. Soon, media companies will hire more women after acknowledging them as a significant part of their audience, these women must drive the change to tear apart age-old stereotypes about their tastes and preferences.


[All Images used are from TED’s Official Website ]