Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?

Check out Nancy Pelosi. Even a glance will show you that she is the only woman at the table (and one of 2, it seems, in the room).

The New York Times wrote an article entitled Picture a Leader. Is She a Woman?

The author shares findings from an organizational behavior professor from the UK. She asked executives to draw a picture of a leader. Invariably, they drew pictures of men.

The researchers took the research further to investigate how “holding unconscious assumptions about gender affect[s] people’s abilities to recognize emerging leadership”.

“What they found, in a study posted by the Academy of Management Journal, seems to confirm what many women have long suspected: getting noticed as a leader in the workplace is more difficult for women than for men.”

This drew my attention because I have led a similar activity in a leadership training. Except, I do not ask participants to draw A leader, I ask them to draw a picture of a leader who has inspired and motivated them. While I cannot say with perfect accuracy how often women or men were drawn, I can 100% tell you that the participants have drawn women far more often than men. I have done this training now with hundreds of participants from six countries. The results never vary. Men and women alike draw women more often than not.

Maybe this exercise will be more balanced as women and men see more examples of women in leadership roles. We are still, in 2020, seeing a lot of “firsts” for women in leadership roles and women being rewarded and recognized for their contributions.

For goodness sake, we saw the first all-women space walk in 2019!

We also saw the second woman ever to win the Nobel Prize in economics! In 2019.

If I were to dive deeper, I’d posit that, true, sure, maybe it is harder to be recognized as a leader as a woman. But once you ARE a leader, you are more likely to be seen as a GREAT one. An inspiring, motivating leader.

What do you think? Once women are leaders, are they more likely to inspire greatness?

Book Report: Feminist Fight Club

Not only did I read Feminist Fight Club, I was a founding member of a club! So, to say that I am a fan is an understatement.

This book is deemed the “Lean In for the Buzzfeed Generation”.  The aspects of Lean In that didn’t resonate for me (the assumed wealth, position, and even ability to organized one’s own schedule) are all absent from this book. It is part guidebook for establishing ourselves professionally, helping to raise up women around us, and a troubleshooting resource for pay negotiation, office politics, and the like.

It is cheeky. It is irreverent. And it is so unlike so many other career management books (ie: written for women and by a woman), it is focused on advice for those early in their careers.  It will likely not be the best advice for those of you who are even in your 30s.  I found the advice to be not-quite-fitting for me, but wished I read it when I was 22. For those of you who are well into your career, consider giving this as a gift to a younger woman. For those of you who are early in your career–get this book, talk about it with your friends, gift it to someone else, and in a few more years, read Lean In.

What I’m Reading

First up, The Myth of Learning Styles. This is a fascinating read that debunks the notion that there are four main learning styles (Visual, Auditory, Reading, and Kinesthetic), that, if properly engaged, can help a learner to better interact with the materials and content to be learned. Well, it looks like learners do have a preference for learning in different styles.  Those learning styles do not necessarily equate with retention or actual learning.  Does that mean that we should be content with lectures? Of course not! To me, this indicates that we should still vary our delivery style to maintain engagement, if nothing else.

This isn’t a new article but it is new to me! The life of a spearfisher is highlighted in Going Rogue.  I always love stories of inspiring, tough, badass women. And Kimi Werner is all of that and more–I mean, she swims with sharks. This article is a great reminder to live my own life. One of my making and choosing. I recently decided to take a leap of faith and work as a consultant to do what I love to do. It feels liberating and freeing.  My trust in myself and my own instinct is growing. I love reading about the success of others in a similar boat (groan, I know, I had to!).  Here is a particularly inspiring passage: “Society is seductive; it’s good at telling us what we can’t do, can’t have, can’t be. Werner intrigued me because, quite clearly, she wasn’t listening. She was thriving on her own terms, doing what she loved. She was paid well for living well, rewarded for not selling herself out. To my mind, this was success. And this made her an inspiration for anyone yearning to slip society’s leash and light out for adventure. In other words, all of us.”

Title aside, this article, Memo to the CEO: Are you the source of workplace dysfunction?, is a great read.  I like it because it encourages self-reflection and acknowledgement that dysfunctions at the workplace are so rarely the result of one person. The suggestions for reflection and action are useful for anyone in a dysfunctional workplace.  The author writes about power can erode empathy–we all have power in some area of our lives so examining our empathetic responses is a good nugget of advice for everyone.

Good news round up!

From time to time, I seek out stories that inspire me and challenge me to think creatively about our work. I love learning about the work that other folks are doing out there. It challenges me to think about our work in new ways and challenges me to think creatively.

If you know me, you know how passionate I am about the need for young people to have accurate sexual health education (and resources and access to care and contraception and and and!!!).  I love it even more when young people are active participants in their own learning and design of their education.

So, it will come as NO surprise that I love this story! Young artists in Temeke District in Tanzania are designing katangas (the colorful wraps that are worn in much of Africa) to promote gender equality and to share reproductive health messaging.  The organizers trained 75 young people who then created their own designs.  You can see the top 20 designs here.

In a similar light, children can be given tools to help improve even the most desperate of situations.In Spain, an outdoor campaign has gone on for a few years now.  The ingenuity of it is that adults and children see the ad differently due to lenticular printing.  Adults see an image of a child with an awareness-based message: “Sometimes child abuse is only visible to the child suffering it”.  Children, or anyone under 4’3″ sees the same child but with facial bruising and an offer of help that says “If somebody hurts you, phone us and we’ll help you.” I found some data that the ads in combination with other activities that calls to their help line did increase. I’d be curious to see that data teased out to see just how many calls were driven by the street ads.

Next up–a good story out of Cameroon!  Tim Immaculate Bih is the first women to be an engineer in Cameroon! As an engineer, she now seeks to consider the unique needs of women and girls as she builds buildings.  She is also hiring women and seeking to improve education in engineering for girls. Amazing all around!

And, finally, a story about food sovereignty.  I am always delightfully amazed when cities, towns, and countries, and the Navajo Nation, are able to defeat big business and tax soda and junk food.  Well, Torba, a group of islands that comprise Vanuatu, a South Pacific country, is now banning all Western junk food! Beyond that, they are hoping to be the first all-organic island by 2020. Incredible.  This may prompt me to add Vanuatu to my travel list!