I know we have all heard the “girl power” message that girls can do anything and be anything, so why are they failing at leading? Why are intelligent, motivated and capable young women shying away from leadership positions, from being known to be able to do awesome stuff, from being known to know more than others, from being recognized? What is the problem? Why do they still consider themselves less, the weaker sex yet the world already acknowledges them as strong?
Is it because as others say we are not wired to be leaders as women, that our brains as women are not wired to lead in the same ways men’s brains are. If this is true can we lead in our own way? –I have stretched this one, I know but why not? According to that article, we girls are more focused on other people’s faces, and in particular seek signs of approval from them – the way I disagree with this, but then I am a rebel and can’t speak for the many.
So, are men born leaders? May be, but I think it depends on how you define leadership and what qualities you look for in an effective leader. If you want a quick decision, take a man to your next meeting. If you want someone who can read the competitors like a book and figure out what they’re up to, take a woman. We are that great at seeing and analyzing things but we have failed to use these skills to lead.
I have been to meetings where I find myself as the only lady among 10, 15, 5, etc guys, and this has been eating me up; not that I don’t like the feeling of being recognized and ‘offered’ a sit on the guys’ table but that I am the only lady on the table. I have wondered a lot and asked a lot of questions why it’s only me offered and no other ladies, the answers; ‘those other gals are too girly, are not flexible, are not willing to lead, not curious enough to break rules, fear competing with guys, they are intimidated and can’t express themselves, they need pampering instead of them leading, we don’t want to baby sit any women.’ These answers and more have broken my heart because I know there are ladies who are better than me and deserve these seats. And no, not those ladies we all know off our finger tips, there are others out there. So why are they not being recognized or are the answers true?
What I am sure about young women today, we doubt ourselves a lot, we question our worth and view ourselves as improvable projects rather than embracing the imperfection of our humanity. We think our kinky hair is not good enough; we want a man to look after us as if we have no hands, we want to settle down and be comfortable instead of thinking beyond our comfort, and we are more into our appearance than how we think. We have reduced ourselves to mere humans than the super humans we are. Surely you can’t think leadership opportunities to come to someone who is not happy in their own skins.
By the time we’re old enough to seriously consider becoming leaders, the majority of us are crippled by insecurities about the way we look, which we internalize and equate with our sense of worth on all levels. And the media adds its poison and convinces us that we exist for men to sexualize and desire us – we are not the subject of our own lives, but rather the object for men. This is why, for example, when you walk into any given high school class or any group of people, the majority of hands raised, voices speaking out, will be those of boys and most girls will sit silently, not trusting themselves to speak, afraid that all they have to offer is inferior even those we already know have ideas and experiences to share.
So when I asked the question of girl leadership on Twitter, a number of tweeps joined in and debated but what is amazing and still disappointing is that most of these were guys and in the ICT sector. I am happy that men are worried about girls not being available in the leadership positions and are willing to help with skills and mentorship.
A number of questions were raised that you can also ponder on and respond to; I will be answering them in part 2.
- Are you interested in women leadership?
- What are you working on in relation to ladies’ programs (in all sectors) that is helping them become better leaders?
- Are girl interventions working? If yes, how can we, together, scale up the best practices?
- If not, how can we create more resilient practices?
Are you afraid to lead? Here is an article to help with that.