“Mansplaining” is a man “talking down” to a woman because he presumes he knows more. Do women do a parallel thing to men? Oops. Yes, we do — in the domestic world of traditional division of labors. In the business world, when a man presumes to know more and speaks in a condescending way to a woman. . . well, that’s what gave rise to the term mansplaining.
Unconscious gender bias is the root cause of business’ slow progress in capturing the business benefits of gender diversity. Having unconscious bias is simply human as Shankar Vedantam shows in his book “The Hidden Brain.” It is hard to change ways we aren’t even aware we have been wired, taught or acculturated to think. Our approach starts with helping people understand and appreciate both masculine and feminine strengths – in men and women.
I am grieved by the news of another terrorist attack in Europe. I believe this is a symptom of a serious imbalance. It is a product of a culture that represses and covers its women – and so represses and dishonors all that is feminine. My commitment is redoubled – to do my small part in having people value both masculine and feminine, in themselves, in others, in our organizations and in our culture.
Manpower Group commissioned research on “accelerating more women into leadership.” The report suggests that reaching “gender parity” will take time — and cultural change. It will take changing “entrenched male culture” to “gender neutral culture.” How can we do that?
Yes, there is progress in seeing more women at leadership levels in business; but the pace remains glacial. We need to understand the reasons at the deepest level – so we can pick up the pace and capture the known benefits. I was invited to post a blog on the London School of Economics Business Review. I used the opportunity to express my thoughts on the root cause. I hope you’ll read it!
Recently at the end of a workshop, a participant said he understood that people, women particularly, need to shift to a masculine style to succeed. Than he asked, “We want workplace culture itself to shift and become more balanced, right?” He had summed up the purpose of my work. I want a world where masculine and feminine ways are modeled in leadership and valued in business cultures.