I wonder if there is a way to talk about being a woman in a male dominated field or an ethnic minority in an organization that is not very diverse, without receiving a negative, defensive reaction? Have we evolved enough to have a conversation about what is prevalent without offending? Whether we’re women or men, we have mindsets about women and men, and about careers in leadership. Unexamined mindsets won’t close the gender gap at the top.
Yes, its true that women are generally groomed to be nurturing, caring and supportive and as tribes, we seek leaders who are risk-takers, aggressive, assertive, and confident. How would an organization benefit by having a leader that is both confident and caring, assertive and nurturing? Can women show all attributes of great leadership while remaining feminine? Must we fold away our floral dresses and replace them with standard issue blue, grey and black suits to be taken seriously? No. I believe those who can turn those traits on and off – depending on the situation – can find great successes at executive leadership levels without masking their identities.