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.
The young lawyer worked long hours, did great work, served on firm committees and got along with clients and colleagues. At her performance review, the senior partner noted all of these strengths. But he identified one “area of improvement”: “You are lacking in humility,” he said. I suspect the “double bind” is at play. The double bind is the tightrope women must walk. If they work and behave in more feminine ways, they are not seen as leaders. If they act in masculine ways (or too masculine or too often), they are disliked.
One obstacle for women in business reaching the top is the double bind. If men become more aware of this problem, they can lower an obstacle to gender diversity. Business workplaces tend to be more masculine than feminine in nature. To succeed, women learn to adopt a masculine style. But if she is “too” masculine “too often,” she may be penalized. If she operat