Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Men and Women as Equals: Funky or Fabulous?

Cristina Anderson is a recognized world leader in educating women in creating more positive results. As a professional in Finland, she sees the world from the vantage point of men and women being very equal in the workplace. Here is an excerpt from one of her recent articles.

"Law of attraction is a very popular term nowadays when the movie “The Secret” is conquering the world with it’s message of hope and positive thinking. Attraction is, to my understanding, a female force. Women are not by nature used to push things forward but rather to use different means to attract things to happen. For example when we communicate we don’t go straight forward saying: “I want a cup of coffee” but rather “Oh, how tired I am, I could really use a cup of coffee” or “what a nice coffee shop there is….”. In order to achieve higher positions in the organization women are taught to become more straightforward in their communication, they are taught to say “bring me a cup of coffee, please”. This kind of communication is of course timesaving and efficient, that by the way everyone must be able to use in situations of emergency, but the price is that the woman loses her natural female attractiveness and gains the attraction of power instead, and eventually become one of the guys.

Law of gravity might be used as a metaphor for male leadership. Men tend to send things forward with such kick and force that the one selected target is reached without deviations and attuning operations. The people around are seen more as pawns that can be ordered and moved in the “name of the task” than individuals that could be attracted to participate an inspirational challenge. Offering a big sum of money and bonuses is a male way to gain commitment when on the other hand offering initial participation, inspiration, growth and learning is a female way to attain commitment.

Unfortunately when the number of female leaders increase in the companies the systems are not developed to support, empower and promote female leadership. The systems remain “male” and women have learned that the true appreciation and acceptance comes from reconciling oneself into the “male” system. Therefore the real change for female values, we might call those values here as “soft human values” do not take place in the companies. I worked as a business consultant for a decade and saw many ‘womanly women’ give up their womanliness and become one of the guys, for the sake of survival and success in the company. The question is: “does this kind of mental castration bring true happiness and fullness of life and does it really create better workplaces and more successful companies?”

One more question: “If we are to learn tolerance and true appreciation of diversity, are we really doing it by making everybody to fit the system? Are we really incapable of creating systems that allow people be themselves and give their best talent, true self-expression and natural creative force to serve the common good?”

About the writer:

Cristina Andersson from Helsinki is the author of the “Winning Helix – the art of learning and manifesting your true potential”. She is an educationalist, who has taught in several business schools and in the University of Helsinki and consulted several companies on strategic learning issues. She lectures about winning, learning and action-learning processes. She is also a motivational speaker and an inspiring soprano singer.

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