Currently reading "Lean In" and have lots to think about on the subject of the current status of women in the workplace, but came across this article and needed to share it. I actually started to simply post the article with a brief comment on the blog's Facebook page, but quickly saw the paragraphs adding up and moved over to this space. Forgive me in advance, I feel a rant coming on.
On the surface, I think this column is trying to point out some fantastic female CEOs and the successes they have achieved for their companies. Great concept, honestly, for a column. Recognizing the great work being done by women in all facets of industry can only help to provide positive role models for young women AND men, not to mention continue to make the female face in the corporate world a less unique one.
The problem with the column, in my opinion, is that it reinforces stereotypes of women in the workplace. First off, the headline "Working Mothers Can Be Great CEOs." Have you ever, EVER, read a headline or business article talking about working fathers and the need to defend their ability to be a great CEO? I mean, E-V-E-R? Second, "can be?" Speechless. Third, it proceeds to highlight stereotypical female characteristics and how these can be useful to companies.
For so long women were told to act like a man to get ahead. Now we are being told to maximize or play up our feminine wiles to succeed? Of course mentoring, collaborating, listening, offering flexible arrangements and other items the columnist points out are good for business. They would be good for a business run by a woman OR a man. They are good for male and female employees. They are good for single workers, gay workers, parent workers, older workers. They just make good business sense. And quite frankly, these attributes are probably found in the best male leaders as well as female. Because the CEOs this columnist features recognized and provided these types of solutions to their respective companies doesn't mean they are successful leaders ONLY because they are women, it means that they are intelligent, aware and solutions oriented people who have found the most effective ways to lead their companies and employees.
The hubby and I watched Tina Fey on Inside the Actor's Studio this week and she answered a question from the audience about how to navigate being a great female director in an industry dominated by men. Her answer - be a great director. Don't think about being a female director or needing to prove that you're good at it because of or in spite of being a woman. Just do your job and do it to the best of your ability.
If we could all just take a step back and stop qualifying leaders by their gender, because the only times we describe a leader by their gender is when they are female. Let's simply applaud our best leaders who create opportunities for all of our citizens, who make work accessible and who support our families by advocating flexible arrangements for all workers.
Yes, there is room to be made for more female leaders and yes, I'll have more to say about that once I finish "Lean In" and digest it for a bit. But "Working Mothers Can Be Great CEOs?" I think I need to launch a similar set of columns. How do these titles sound?
- Working Fathers Make Great Dinners
- Working Fathers Can Be Terrific Caregivers
- Working Fathers Make Housework More Effective