Do you see this as an unusual volume of good news for gender equity?
Having a woman set to represent a major political party in the race for the U.S. presidency is historical. I wish this could be the only way gender is a factor. How much of her low favorability ratings do you think are driven by unconscious gender bias?
I am out to expose and eradicate anything that gets in the way of women being able to reach their potential. One thing that gets in the way is “mind-sets” — often unconscious ways we think as a result of our early-life experiences. Images from the 1950’s capture ways people discounted the value of women. That thinking that may still influence the experiences of women – and give rise to obstacles like the double bind and gendered definitions of leadership.
A colleague suggested that we might attract more people, particularly men, to our cause if we emphasize, not gender diversity, but the business benefits of gender inclusion. Another author and facilitator reminded me that we get better results by focusing on what we want rather than on the “problem” we are trying to solve. Help me apply these two insights. If we invite people to a workshop about organizational culture and results, do we indicate up front, or once they are in the room, that the drivers we focus on are inclusive leadership and gender diversity? I want to focus on the desired outcome (businesses that thrive because of gender diversity) and not the “problem” (unconscious gender bias). How do we effectively address unconscious bias?
Rich and I delivered a well-received workshop at the third annual WILD Summit (Women Inspiring Leadership Development from the Women’s Council of the Leeds School of Business at CU). We framed as choice (the conference theme) 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. 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, gender diversity.
Do women do more “helping” tasks (vs “working”) in your office? Yes, say Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant. They get no credit from it at performance review time but are penalized in evaluations if they decline to “help.” “Helping (which includes planning events, helping a co-worker, taking notes in meetings, and getting coffee for others) costs energy and opportunities. Sandberg and Grant say men need to “acknowledge” this problem and then speak up. I agree that raising awareness is the starting point and hope their articles are raising awareness.