Words shape our world.
what if we didn’t have to be
“one of the guys”?
What if we didn’t have to be “one of the guys”? | Emily Nichols | TEDx McMasterU
Emily Nichols (P. Eng) at TEDxMcMasterU.
She’s an engineer who loved working in factories, but she didn’t always love being ‘one of the guys’. Authentic and entertaining, Emily Nichols reminds us that words become habits, language evolves, and we control them both. She shines a light on language that limits our thinking and invites us all to deliberately choose our own words.
Video production and editing by NSHAPS Productions. This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at https://www.ted.com/tedx
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Leave a comment on YouTube, yes! And also share it here. If you were writing a movie review of Emily’s TEDx talk, what would you write? What shifted for you, as you watched? What did you love? What will you remember next week?
TEDx is about ideas worth spreading; this is an idea worth discussing. For best results changing hearts and minds, book Emily for an extended version of this talk with Q&A. Emily speaks from the stage or the factory floor – wherever your people typically gather. Virtual options also available.
Engineer AND Keynote Speaker
Speaking from the stage or the factory floor, Emily Nichols nudges technical people to embrace their human skills, so they can become better problem solvers, team players, and leaders.
A professional engineer with decades of experience in manufacturing and innovation, Emily has worked with organizations like PepsiCo, PPG, Janssen, and Henkel, improving products and processes from breakfast cereal to automotive paint and electrical steel. Emily easily connects at all levels of organizations, inspiring deeper understanding and collaborative teamwork.
Emily has a B.Sc. in Systems Engineering (University of Guelph) and a M.A.Sc. in Chemical Engineering (McMaster University). She summarized her master’s thesis in five Dr. Seuss rhymes.
What did you think?
CHANGED MY WOR(L)D
I watched Emily’s TEDx talk online, and as a result, I’m going to be much more mindful of my word choices!
Fuels Safety Engineer, FSCS, Inc.
TAKES YOU ON A JOURNEY
A captivating topic that makes you reflect on the origin of our language. Emily takes you on a journey of referencing someone without pausing to reflect on the impact of the reference. Thought-provoking topic that shows how bias can be created unintentionally. Well researched and presented. The key message reverberated with me.
Commercial Financial Services, RBC
EMPOWERED TO ‘BE THE CHANGE’
I was already aware of how each of us is part of the evolution in society and at the same time influenced by the changes, but Emily’s talk, ‘One of the Guys’ made me think even more deeply about the issues around gender imbalance, and equality in general.
It also helped me see how I can be more of an active participant in the changes that all of us can, and must, make. I definitely feel more empowered to ‘be the change’.
Founder, The Essential Message
RESONATES BEYOND STEM AND TRADES
I brought two young women with me to hear Emily’s TEDx talk live, and it was such an empowering message for them that we discussed it the whole ride home! Emily’s advice to be mindful of how we default to male words like “guys” is a powerful message that resonates well beyond the trades, engineering and other traditionally male-dominated professions. After watching Emily’s TEDx Talk, you will never be able to “unsee” our biased language and commit to doing something about it.
Chief Recognition Officer, Greatness Magnified
I loved this TEDx Talk! It addresses sexism head on, and Emily wisely uses her short amount of time to do the lifting of including non-binary as a reality that demands allyship. Transphobia cannot be eradicated if people believe women are lesser than men because there is a spectrum of gender expressions. Brilliant job Emily!
Diversity and Leadership Speaker
IMPORTANT AND MEMORABLE
Emily’s talk was inspiring, thought-provoking, and important. It’s going to stick with me for a very long time!
MY FAVOURITE TALK
I had the privilege of watching this talk live at TEDx McMaster and it was my favourite talk of the day. Since this talk, I have stopped saying guys or ladies to my girlfriends. I even stopped saying Mr. and Ms. in my formal meetings. Thanks for raising awareness.
Emily has an understated mischievous humour that catches the audience off guard and wins them to her side.
Lifelong Learner, former Certified Financial Planner
WHAT DID *YOU* THINK?
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The part of Emily’s talk that resonated most for me was…
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LOVED THE STORIES
Emily’s talk was so engaging! I loved the stories she used to emphasize her points about language and how we as a society address each other using gender-specific terms (and not always correctly!) I highly recommend having Emily as a speaker for your event.
Learning and OD Specialist, William Osler Health System
⭐️ FIVE STARS ⭐️
Emily’s talk was captivating from start to finish! It reminds all of us of the importance of our word choices, and gives us tangible ways to promote inclusiveness. I’ll be thinking about this talk as I write report cards. Thanks for all you are doing to bring awareness and a valued perspective to this pertinent issue.
Elementary Teacher, Simcoe County District School Board
BRILLIANT CONTENT AND DELIVERY
Emily, ‘thank you’ for bringing insight and perspective to such an important topic! For years I’ve used the term ‘guys’ as a non-gender-specific phrase of inclusive endearment. I now realize that my intention of ‘inclusive endearment’ may have been misinterpreted by many and offensive to some.
As a long-time management speaker, I also applaud your catchy title, in the form of a question, your brilliant content and delivery.
Business Coach and Management Speaker
LIKE A SUSPENSE THRILLER
Emily held my attention the entire time. Her talk was like riding a rollercoaster or watching a suspense thriller…I never knew what was coming next! Such a creative talk, well crafted, with a message of tolerance and respect for everyone.
Senior Business Analyst, Black & McDonald Limited
TIMELY AND CHALLENGING
Emily’s TEDx talk is very timely as society struggles with change. Being a boomer and coming from a conservative Christian upbringing, I struggle with new words especially around gender neutrality. Emily’s talk challenges me to think outside my box and try to understand this new normal.
President, The Recharge Group
PERSPECTIVE, IT’S EVERYTHING
This talk uncovered a blindspot in my awareness. I thought I was one of the converted, one of the few who recognized the inequality and the barriers placed in the way of women entering the workforce and worked to level the playing field.
All I can do is smile… you got me. I use guy, guys, man as the primary term for a person in nearly every instance I can think of. And without bringing it to focus I would mindlessly continue to do so.
My take is that it’s not so much that you’re offended by the use of the terminology, it’s just that it’s incorrect and helps enforce gender bias if we continue to use it. You’re highlighting what should be obvious and asking if we can’t modernize our speech to be in general more inclusive and that doing so would draw awareness to other areas where gender bias would likely be an issue. There’s a big picture here, just wanted to make sure I’m catching it all.
It’s a really good TEDx talk Emily. You’ve painted a clear enough picture for anyone to step into your boots for a second. It’s helped me gain some perspective, and now being one of the guys doesn’t carry the same weight it did 20 or so minutes ago.
Project Manager, Manufacturing Industry
SUITABLE FOR ALL AGES
Emily’s storytelling style is simple, sincere, and suitable for all ages. We hired her last year to speak at our STEM camp for girls, and we’re going to have her back again this year.
Contracts and Market Data Administrator, GE Healthcare
Looong before she was sharing this message with the world (and galaxies, far far away), Emily was using her Jedi word tricks to correct my ‘man’erisms. Her simple approach makes it feel effortless to learn and adapt.
Principal Engineer, Aerospace Industry
A POWERFUL MUST-SEE
Emily dives into the crucial topic of gender equality with the use of language as our number one tool. With eloquence, charisma, fun and insight, she navigates the challenges faced by women in the engineering field, while emphasizing the imperative of inclusivity and diversity in the way we express ourselves. A powerful must-see for simple tools contributing to a more equitable future.
Confidence Expert, CEO and Founder, THINK Yourself® ACADEMY
SHINES A BRIGHT LIGHT
Emily shines a bright light into the often dark corner of gender inequality and reveals that we all have a role to play in breaking down barriers. What could easily have been a political or social polemic is instead a cleverly crafted narrative that weaves effective storytelling with excellent research and an impassioned call to action. She teaches us that “words shape our world” and that “knowing” needs to translate into “doing”. Most importantly, Emily invites us to challenge our long-held assumptions and cherished beliefs about gender roles, and her talk serves as a clarion call to develop a deeper sensitivity to the impact that our words have on others.
CEO, ThinkShift Performance Solutions Inc.
YES, WE NEED PPE
Surprisingly…I’m ahead of the curve in addressing emails – I use “folks” whenever sending to more than one recipient. But we fight the war of “no appropriate sizes of ppe available” every year for our female summer students in the maintenance department. Gloves in particular do not exist. And fire respirators on prescribed burns…they don’t seal on smaller faces.