I’ve just read an article ‘The Power of Women and Girls’ (www.theartof.com), and I can’t remain indifferent since an elusive theory expressed in this article is repeated again and again. The theory expressed there is prevalent in many websites and leadership magazines. Instead of pushing us forward with gender equality, this point of view unintentionally keeps us still at square one.
Yet again, leadership mentors want us to believe that in order to give women power and have more women as leaders, we need to:
- change the system (We need to begin redefining leadership and executive roles. As they exist now, they are very much a product of the patriarchal systems that created them. We need to stop trying to make women fit into molds, and start re-shaping the system to better elevate women of all diversities and backgrounds.);
- leave women exactly as they are because they were obviously born to be leaders, and it’s only unjust stereotypes that blocks them (Despite what gender stereotypes may tell us, women excel at leadership. They do it every day at home, in their personal lives, and at work.);
- introduce non-discriminatory gender norms and policies at all possible levels (It is not enough to make basic changes like hiring more women – we must ensure that appropriate conditions and support structures exist at all levels for them to thrive).
Not a single word about women themselves, who need to transform from subconsciously subordinate and obedient people, into self-confident leaders.
The above-mentioned beliefs and assumptions are wrong! Women won’t become more powerful through corporate policies or gender diverse strategies. Power imbalances between women and men can’t be changed top-down. Until women discover authentic power within themselves, there is a high probability they’ll stay powerless, even if formally promoted – like many other women-leaders and CEOs who admit feeling like an impostor deep inside.
Women – in general – suffer from a lack of confidence and boldness, self-doubts and low self-esteem, and the embarrassing feeling of not being good enough to rule at the top. These attitudes and beliefs are the aftermath of the role and position women have had for millennia, when our culture, society, and diverse religions, for the most part, have suppressed our feminine power. These subconscious tendencies are holding us back – and therein lies the problem.
Until we consciously reprogram our mental structures and thinking patterns rooted deeply in our brains, nothing will change when it comes to our leadership.
True power will not come to us from the OUTSIDE. That’s why neither non-discriminatory gender norms nor forcing equal power relations will help here.
I would suggest women need a deep transformation of their personalities and a shift in mental consciousness. Women need to put a lot of effort into change themselves in order to be the leaders. We need to focus inward, not outward. That’s the only way to empower women and girls.