When looking over the dynamics of contemporary society, one has to marvel at the diversity we can find in this new century. We have people of various religions, races and backgrounds coming together in an attempt to form a homogenous society. Both the U.S. and Canada, which were unarguably caucasian – dominated countries a single generation ago, are now melting pots of international and racial popurri. As the world slowly becomes smaller through the growth of technology and globalization, we are learning to work together as human beings, rather than fighting among opposing tribes.
Third-generation immigrants are integrating into our western culture and are becoming teachers, entrepreneurs and community leaders. The town I am living in at this moment in time, elected a Mayor with an East Indian background – unheard of even fifteen years earlier according to the locals I speak to. We are finally witnessing far Eastern immigrants breaking into popular culture through film and music.
What we seem not to be witnessing, at least on any significant scale, is the emergence of women in leadership roles. Without argument, there are more women who lead now than at any other time in our Western history. It just seems to be an proportionally small percentage when compared to the fact that women make up more than half our population.
What’s going on? And why, when I still present many men across diverse professions with the question of – if they could choose between a male or female boss, they almost unanimously pick having a guy to answer to? When I further ask them why they have a stated preference of a male boss, I receive vague and slippery answers like – “It just works better that way” or “women are too emotional to lead in this industry” – as if they themselves are not entirely sure why it is better to have a boss that is a man.
In my time on this planet, I have witnessed numerous women in leadership roles around the world and they seem to have taken care of business quite effectively. Although she was a controversial figure, one of the first women in leadership to appear on my radar (Besides my mother and primary school teachers) was Margaret Thatcher. I was young, but knew enough that like her or loathe her, she could get things done.
Other notable examples: Mother Teresa, Indira Gandhi, Lady Diana, Marissa Mayer (CEO Yahoo Inc.), Virginia M.Rometty (CEO IBM Corp), Indra K. Nooyi (PepsiCo Inc), and Marillyn A. Hewson (CEO Lockheed Martin Corp) to name just a few.
As I grew older, I watched women move into leadership roles in other foreign countries such as India and Pakistan. If they could rise to power through dogmatic gender persecution, then why could women in the West not break into the “established rich, white-mens” clubs? I raise these questions on the eve of the two year campaign season that will culminate in the 2016 national elections and am personally buoyed by the hope that Hillary Clinton may once more throw her hat into the ring. What could be a more eventful follow up to the first African-American President, than the very first woman to take the Oath of Office. As with most things, time will tell.
Personally, I have always viewed women in leadership as a positive thing. My Grandmother raised my Father as a single parent and was the quintessential strong matriarch in a leadership role. Both my Mother and Sister occupy leadership roles as women and perform them well. I have never fully understood the almost fanatically ingrained fear of women in leadership displayed by many men. In our modern society, it doesn’t make sense and quite frankly, has no place here whatsoever.
Over the years I have proven a bit of a wanderer and subsequently have occupied my fair share of jobs and professions. Working for numerous companies means working for numerous bosses – a few very good, many rather mediocre and unfortunately many mostly bad. In that time, I have only ever worked for and answered directly to one woman in leadership and I can say without reservation, that working for her was one of the best experiences in my professional life.
I am by no means suggesting that working for men is all negative and answering to women in a leadership role is all good. I surmise that there are poor female bosses out in the world too. The point that I am trying to make however, is that if we could all relax and maybe drop our ingrained preconceptions, we might be better off. Consider the differences that could be made and yes – even problems that could be solved, if we as a society made an effort to have the group of individuals who make up more than half our total population, fairly represented in leadership positions across the board; local, government, military and corporate.
Close on the heels of this challenge – women in the workplace, is an equally important consideration which embraces the notion of equal pay for equal work, regardless of gender.
Women Equally Represented In Leadership – Imagine The Possibilities!