There’s this talk being held today, “Must women lead differently than men?” and I wanna talk a little about how this title frames the discussion and enforces status quo.
This title establishes “male” styles of leadership (I use the quotes because I don’t believe there is an innate “male” way of leading. I think anything we ascribe to “male leadership” is probably largely influenced by heavy gender construction throughout a person’s life. We teach boys and girls to behave differently through social conditioning and perpetuating gender essentialism.) as the standard against which leadership is measured. Is that correct? Is it appropriate? Is “male leadership” the bar we should all reach for? According to this title, yes.
What if we reframe the title and ask, “Must men lead differently than women?” Here the standard is set by women, and frames “women’s leadership” styles as the norm. I don’t think we’ll ever see anything other than things related to child rearing framed with women’s action as the standard.
This is bias. This is how we teach people that feminine is bad, or weak and masculine is good, or strong. This title doesn’t use the words, “Women are bad leaders,” but it certainly plants a seed of doubt. Because the title accepts that how men do something is what we consider normal. So if the norm is how men do it, however a woman does it must be wrong. People read this and, without even thinking about it, understand that men must be better leaders. And then figure this is why there aren’t many female presidents of financially powerful companies. And then offer up the “men are just more suited to positions of power than women” because —> leadership styles.
Bias y’all, it’s a thing.