Archive for the ‘ Gender Balance ’ Category

Do Women Need Protecting?

In our office we talk at length about how we help individuals leverage their individual strengths, about equality in leadership and even teach workshops focused on gender diversity and helping people overcome the obstacles in their minds which might be holding them back.

My wife and I learned a few weeks ago we are having a little girl in August. Ashton, our son is two. Leading up to the ultrasound which revealed a daughter to be we were asked by friends, family and colleagues which gender we ‘wanted’. As we expressed indifference the reaction was interesting – everyone had an opinion: some defined the “perfect” situation as having a second boy – logistically we had all the boy toys and clothes. Some defined “perfect” as having one boy and one girl. Now that we know that, perfect or not we are having one of each, it is people’s reaction that I am writing about. Primarily I find the reaction of women to be interesting. Dozens of women, ranging in age from mid-twentites to mid-seventies have responded the same: “how perfect! A boy and a girl! She will have a big brother to protect her.”

Really? Do all women need protecting? Is the boy automatically a protector? I ask the question because my world is one of equality in strength and I don’t see it that way. I grew up with a single mother who was always strong and protected my brother and I. I suppose I protected my little brother, but am not sure it would have been any different if I were female – but perhaps “protecting” would have been “nurturing” instead of protecting? Will Ashton automatically protect his little sister? Interesting and food for thought…


It Just Wasn’t Worth It

According to authors Sally Hegelsen and Julie Johnson, “It just wasn’t worth it” is the refrain of many women who opted out of a senior level leadership position, or who decided not to go for it in the first place. I too have heard this sentiment from several women I coach. After reading Hegelsen and Johnson’s new book, The Female Vision, I experienced an AHA moment – we’ve been asking the wrong questions.

I am working with a division in a global company to help them achieve “gender diversity”. They get it. They want to make sure they have a diversity of strengths in their leadership so they are able to make the best strategic decisions for their future. As we’ve been looking at the issue of too few women in their upper management positions, we’ve been asking several questions. “What are the obstacles that get in the way of women moving up?” “What supports does the company offer that will help women in their careers?” “How important are role models?”

The real question should be, “What would make going after a senior leadership position worth it for women?” If a large percentage of women who are capable and eligible to apply for those vaulted positions drop out of the running, what would keep them interested? While an increase in salary (when offered) is never refused by women, it is not enticing enough to encourage more women to apply for these positions.

Try asking this question of your high potential women, “Under what circumstances would women want the “C” suite jobs?” I found myself pondering an answer. What if two women paired up and applied for one position? What if a high powered job were split into two positions, including the salary? Would that be doable and would that make it worth it for more women? I have no idea, but it’s the sort of “out of the box” thinking that would truly be a new approach.


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