We Don’t Need More Women In Leadership, Here’s Why
Here’s the truth about women in leadership. And it’s a truth that unfortunately, could only come from a woman because if it came from a man, it would be labelled as sexist, misogynistic and every lewd term you could think of. So, here goes. We don’t need any more women in leadership.
Wait a minute. Did I, an open-minded, progressive woman just say that we don’t need more women in leadership roles? Yes. I did. And even worse, I said it today of all days, when the world is celebrating International Women’s Day. Blasphemy.
My Spidey sense is telling me angry feminists everywhere are oiling their fingers and prepping their already worn-down keyboards for war. I love the smell of confrontation in the morning. But, before they do, I’d advise them to read to the end, that’s if they don’t pass out from anger first.
First, a little backstory. When I was in my 20s, I bought into the myth that things would be better for womankind if only those pesky male gatekeepers would step aside and allow them unfettered access.
And while that boys club mentality still proudly displays its “no girls allowed” placards with the ‘r’ spelled backwards, it’s not the only reason women failed to climb the corporate ladder and subsequently shatter glass ceilings.
One big reason was because ‘We the People’ did not trust them to lead. And sadly, many of the individuals who make up We The People, are women.
So not only were women facing headwinds with men, but they were facing it with women, as well. Bahamian women occupy top positions throughout various industries in this country, leading many to believe there is parity where leadership is concerned. But, they are wrong.
One need look no further than our political landscape to see evidence of that. In politics, we give women our votes, but not our vote of confidence. That’s because Bahamians have displayed a serious discomfort with women in the most senior political roles, unless they are functioning as a sidekick to a man.
We have allowed these women’s heads to leave oils on the ceiling, but no more.
Those who make it through the door and are invited to pull up a seat at the table, are often muzzled. Sometimes, they do it to themselves.
I have worked in organizations where senior women were merely figureheads. They rarely had any authority or a voice, and in those blue moon occasions when they decided to speak up, their voices were quickly hushed by the hiss of their male counterparts or superiors.
When that happened, they automatically resigned themselves to the number two position and deferred to a man. Those women bold enough to speak up, were labelled professional troublemakers.
Women Can Have Some Power, But Not Too Much
Yes, we have had female attorneys general. You can thank Janet Bostwick for that. She was the first. I interviewed her several years ago and recall her famously sharing that many people – particularly women – did not want her to enter politics. And they weren’t shy about telling her that.
We’ve also had a female deputy prime minister in the person of Cynthia Pratt. But, again, she was in the number two role. That’s not to discredit her incredible accomplishment. She is a history-maker. But, at what point will we be comfortable with a woman occupying the top position?
Truth be told, Bahamians have repeatedly demonstrated that we distrust women in certain leadership positions. We don’t want them there. But, there are some things we need to take stock of.
Firstly, not every woman is qualified to lead. I know what you’re going to say. Not every man is qualified to lead either. You’re right. But, we’re talking about women. So, stay on topic.
Secondly, not every woman wants to lead. I have personally witnessed companies pushing women to the forefront because they want the organization to look diverse. The problem here is they prefer the look of diversity. However, whenever that woman presents a diverse viewpoint, it’s a problem. So, she is indeed allowed to sit at the table. But, she does so with a gag bit in her mouth.
Thirdly, the women who are qualified to lead, actually want to lead and make their intentions known are rarely supported by men or women. Instead, they are vilified and undermined. See any article on Loretta Butler-Turner’s leadership bid for reference.
Take a look at the political landscape. How often do we stack up the number of female candidates on a party’s roster to their male counterparts. I know I’ve done it. But, I’ve also found that a shared anatomy provides no guarantee that one will advocate on my behalf.
In fact, I’ve found that sometimes, men represent and push for women’s rights better than some women. See any referendum article on Dame Joan Sawyer for reference.
We Need Strong Women In Leadership
But, back to my headline. We don’t need more women in leadership . . . if they’re not prepared to fight for other women.
We don’t need more women in leadership if they fold when confronted about their ambition.
We don’t need more women in leadership if they’re more comfortable being liked than being respected. We don’t need more women in leadership if they expect to be elevated to the top of the corporate ladder just because they are women.
What we need is women in leadership who want to see more women in leadership.
I would take two strong women prepared to go toe-to-toe with their male counterparts than 20 women who cower in the corner. I’m not referring to a male basher, but one who is fearless, smart, sharp and can routinely perform mental gymnastics.
And finally, we need to surround these women with people who are fair and open-minded enough to support them.