Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The voice of a young woman on leadership

Forbes recently published an essay by a 19-year old undergraduate student on why Millennial women don't want to lead. I don't interact with many women in this age group these days, so it was an interesting perspective.

Her conclusion:
Ultimately, women equate leadership with perfection in a way that men don’t…
So, why don’t women want to lead? The answer is in the pages of the magazines we read and now even in the news coverage of the political debates we watch, which promote cultural standards that destroy women’s confidence and prescribe unattainable standards in all areas of our lives. In order for women to lead – for women to want to lead, to feel that we are capable of leading – we need to redefine leadership altogether. We need to define leadership not as perfection but as intelligence, honesty and doing the right thing. It is also essential that we question and change a society that sets the standard for achievement impossibly high for women and upsettingly low for men.
I find it a bit problematic that this young woman appears to confuse leadership with political power, a very specific type of leadership. At age 19, she is a published author and the founder of The FBomb.org, which describes itself as "a blog/community created by and for teenage girls who care about their rights as women and want to be heard." In other words, she already is a leader.  White women are the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action when considering management positions in the U.S. and it is difficult to believe that this trend will reverse in the coming decades. 

Nonetheless I find her link between the acquisition of perceived physical perfection and perfect life balance with the acquisition of leadership relevant. Additionally, I agree with the premise that the role of media in sending harmful messages to girls cannot be understated. I highly recommend you go to Forbes to read the full article.

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