We all have masculine and feminine sides and these are not related to gender
With speakers who included Dr Muna Jawhary, coach and author of Women and False Choice: The Truth about Sexism: How to Fight Sexism in the Workplace, Dr Gina Heathcote, chair of the Centre for Gender Studies, SOAS, University, Dr Almuth McDowall, senior lecturer, Birkbeck University, Gaenor Bagley, head of people, PwC; and Bonita Norris, the world’s youngest person to reach the summit of Mount Everest and the North Pole, the Citywealth Powerwomen Summit provided inspiration and insight into the topic of gender and diversity. Liz Henson who chaired the committee shares her thoughts on the days content.
“We discovered that often our roles as women in both the business arena and life are based on pre-conceived and often incorrect notions of what women are. We all have masculine and feminine sides and these are in no way related to gender. The same mix of the masculine and the feminine are found in men as well. However the workplace norm is often traditionally to downplay feminine qualities such as caring, love and compassion. Instead more masculine qualities such as command, aggression and leadership are more highly valued. Consequently too often we as women suppress our more feminine strengths which was seen as an enormous pity.
“So often, we learned, that we as women are preprogrammed subconsciously by society into thinking that we have to behave in a certain way. An example is that women should take on the substantial task of child rearing and running the home which for working women creates a double burden. As a result of societies desire for us to conform, we make incorrect choices about our position in life when actually the reality is very different in terms of our options and capabilities which would change if we thought differently about male contribution to childcare. In business, we heard that women need to be true to themselves and be authentic leaders. This means having the courage to show their feminine side more whilst also valuing their masculine side. The result would be greater fulfilment for women in their careers and less women leaving professional life.
“For most women attending the event the introduction of a quota system wasn’t deemed to be an appropriate approach to solving the lack of women in senior positions. This is because it was felt to undermine the achievements of those who had already built successful careers through their own merits. However, some form of positive discrimination, was perceived to be necessary to address the current scarcity of senior women. Changes to corporate structures were also something that the group believed would take ongoing, focused and determined effort for many years.
“Rounding up the day Muna Jawhary said for more women to be successful, the business world as a whole, needs to pro actively value differences. With the market place for all businesses becoming increasingly diverse it no longer makes business sense, nor is it morally defensible, for employees to be dominated by men especially in top management. The world is however changing and the millenial view of life already demands more flexibility in the working world and more interest in life in and outside work.”