Which way are women leaning?

By Kristiina Hiukka, Founder

SEATTLE – April 5, 2013

I’ve been fascinated by the conversations sparked by the two leading women of social media, CEO Marissa Mayer of Yahoo and COO Sheryl Sandberg of Facebook. They represent the new look of corporate women leadership by being outspoken about the their life style choices and views on gender balance at home and in the workplace. Sandberg’s Lean In book and self development program have been the hot topic in all media since the International Women’s Day when it was launched.

Sandberg said in an interview that “it’s in everyone’s interest to support women whether they work in a home or in a workplace.” So, how do we support women? Do women need support?

Over the last few decades a myriad of women’s organizations have been created to serve the needs of professional women. But how are they serving the true needs of the modern woman of business? Are they addressing the issues with the rigor needed to affect the realities women are facing in business and in life in general? What are they actually advancing and advocating for? Are they places where women feel safe to “be themselves” or are they challenging women to grow and take risks? Are they places where women share the sorority spirit and friendship? Or are they places where women challenge each other and collaborate?

Are these programs and organizations inadvertently “fixing” women to be more like men in order to succeed in the “men’s world”? Is it required that women should become more competitive than collaborative? According to authors Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman of “Top Dog – The Science of Winning and Losing” say that women assess carefully whether they have a “fighting chance “ of winning before they compete, whereas men typically jump in believing there is always a chance they might become the “top dog”. They claim that according to research, innovation is fueled by competition and risk taking, and “ability to avoid being paralyzed by fear and ability to focus attention.” They don’t agree that competition excludes cooperation or is the opposite of collaboration. In fact, they write: “healthy competition cannot happen without cooperation.” And that “the same hormones that drive us to compete are the same hormones that drive us the collaborate.” So, what kinds of competition and collaboration there is among women – and how do they show up in the ways women innovate?

How do the Lean In Program or Jness answer these and other questions? What about the value that Women’s Business Exchange, Women Business Owners, Win With Washington or eWomen Network and others provide and how do they serve the modern women in business?

These are just some points to ponder when we convene for our next Ignite Innovation Forum on Monday April 8th a 10am. Bring your perspective in this timely discussion. Register here – we have a limited number of seats available.


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