August 12, 2019
Word of the Week: Leadership
I recently hired an amazing, life-saving Social Media Manager (thank you, @Becca!). One of the first projects we decided to do together was to revamp my Pinterest page (you can check it out here!). I originally named one of the boards “Female Entrepreneurship” but when it came time to post the cover art, something just didn’t sit right about it.
I stared at these words for a long time as I asked myself questions like:
Ever since starting grad school last fall at Columbia (Clinical Psychology with an advanced certificate in Sexuality, Women, and Gender), I’ve started to question everything I thought I knew about gender, sexuality, and feminism. From taking classes on the Psychology of Human Sexuality and Women and Mental Health to learning about the intricacies of feminist and multicultural therapy, I am dismantling a lot of previously held beliefs around what it means to be a woman in our society.
I’ve started seriously examining the language I use. The stereotypes I feed into. The assumptions I make. More than anything, I have come to the conclusion that most of what I thought of as “normal” is all social conditioning.
The more I learn, the more intentional I get about questioning my own biases. What informs my idea of “right” and “wrong? “Good” vs. “bad”? “Normal” vs. “weird”? “Male vs. female”?
One of the things I’ve become much more aware of is how our society genders leadership traits. For example, there’s a lot of literature out there that states that (cis) men and (cis) women bring different skills to the table. Here’s how it usually goes down:
A lot of the time, these assumptions are made in favor of supporting women in the workplace (like this HBS article that organizational psychologist Adam Grant posted about recently) in hopes of demonstrating why we should be investing more in female leaders. However, here’s what I’ve learned from my personal, professional, and own research experience:
As far as I can tell, this is not a gender issue. This is an issue with how our society views leadership.
When I think back to the words “Female Entrepreneurship”, here’s what I think I really mean:
These are not female traits. They are not male traits. They are human traits.
So for now, I’ve decided to name the board: “Entrepreneurship & Online Business Tips.” 🙂
Ask Yourself: What the top 5 traits you value in a leader? Do you tend to associate these traits with a specific gender? How can you challenge your own gender biases?
Weekly Mantra: I am more than the labels placed on me by society