I am still energized by a day spent April 10 at the third annual WILD Summit (sponsored by Women Inspiring Leadership Development). This event grew out of the Women’s Council of the Leeds School of Business. It “showcases our women leaders of today and fosters the development of . . . women leaders” (from the Chairs’ welcome letter). The theme was “Choices.”
There was an inspiring keynote by Barbara Mowry (whose resume can’t be reduced to a parenthetical but includes Chair of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City) and a luncheon keynote full of good tips by Elaine Feeney (CEO of Wayin). In addition to our session (more to come), there was a session on getting “boxed in,” a panel on making confident decisions, a session on strategic networking (including differences in how men and women approach their networks) – and lots more.
Rich Grenhart and I delivered a workshop we felt great about. It was titled, “Leveraging Masculine and Feminine Strengths: Better Choices, Better Leaders, Better Results.” We framed as choice the ability to value and leverage both masculine and feminine strengths. We demonstrated that being able to choose which is most effective in a particular situation is an important career skill — for both men and women. Appreciating both approaches makes one a better and more inclusive leader; the result is broader team engagement, leading to better results.
We tackled the subject of how masculine-feminine differences run up against unconscious biases or mindsets, creating obstacles for women in business – and therefore for gender diversity. We facilitated group discussions on what choices women have to overcome these obstacles – the double bind, the comfort principle, unconscious images and other unintentional biases.
We had over 150 participants – professionals and students. We got great feedback. One person said “I’ve been to lots of programs on this topic; this is by far the best I’ve seen.” Another felt we had given a name (in a way both men and women could “get”) to biases she had experienced; this understanding gave her choices! My favorite piece of feedback was simply, “Awesome.”
We loved doing the workshop. We loved being in a huge gathering of powerful women – and women ready to spread their wings (students at Leeds). We loved making the difference we are committed to making I am inspired to encourage greater collaboration among various organizations that share the same mission – e.g., The Leadership Investment (its Success Forum is October 23) and the Virtual Exchange (Vx). We are all helping companies get the full benefit of gender diversity.
Were you at WILD? What did you think?
I hear lots of “talk” about it. Women get “talked over” and interrupted in meetings – and have their ideas credited to men who repeat women’s unheralded ideas. In their NY Times series, Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant wrote a piece entitled “Speaking While Female.” They addressed the “double bind,” which makes speaking up assertively risky for a woman. They identify the double bind as a chief reason women are less likely to speak up in meetings.
Joanne Lipman addresses the issue of women not being heard in meetings in her a WSJ piece, “Women at Work: a Guide for Men.” She advises men to ask women for their ideas.
Dr. Arin N. Reeves has now published a research study titled “Mansplaining, Manterrupting & Bropropriating: Gender Bias and the Pervasive Interruption of Women.” She defines these three terms this way:
“Mansplaining: a man interrupting a woman to explain to her something that she actually knows more about than he does
Manterrupting: the unnecessary interruption of a woman by a man
Bropropriating: a man taking a woman’s idea and taking credit for it.”
Reeves’ research concludes that men interrupt significantly more than women and are far more likely to interrupt women than men. Men’s interruptions of women are more “intrusive” than their interruptions of men. Women, too, are far more likely to interrupt another woman than a man. Her research confirms a study by Kieran Snyder.
Reeves introduces these terms for phenomena that most women recognize, but that remain below the conscious level for most men. She notes that giving these behaviors names may “highlight the frustration that the interruptive behavior continues to engender.”
I wrote an article on these phenomena (which I have experienced personally).in Forbes WomensMedia a couple of years ago. I explored how and why these things happen and suggested the only solutions I could:
“Awareness . . . is the starting point. Women can practice speaking up more; they can learn to interrupt (politely), hold the floor, and speak with greater confidence and power (having due regard for the double bind). Both men and women can notice when a women’s idea doesn’t get the reaction it deserves. They can endorse the idea and give credit where it is due if another person ‘steals’ the idea.”
So is all this “talk” going to bring enough awareness to make all this happen less? Will men and women allow women to be heard and get credit for their ideas? Fixing this can support the engagement and retention of women – and that is good for business results.