Eve Annunziato

Should Women Rule The World? May 5, 2008

Filed under: Leadership — Eve Annunziato @ 4:28 am

Before you answer that question, let me explain! I just finished a thought-provoking and insightful book written by Dee Dee Myers, entitled, “Why Women Should Rule The World.” The former White House Press Secretary for President Clinton challenges all of us to consider the possibilities if women were to reach the top ranks in every field. This is not a male bashing book nor does it attack men in any way. Rather, this compelling and sensible read emphasizes the positive strengths women can offer any organization.

Drawing from interviews with successful women, extensive research and her own experiences, Myers presents a compelling case of why women are quite capable of being in charge!

Here are some highlights and quotes:

  • Genetically speaking, men and women are incredibly similar; 99 percent of our genetic material is the same. Hmmm, I thought. Only a 1 percent difference; that doesn’t seem like very much. But when I read that chimpanzees differ from humans by just 1.5 percent, that small difference is pretty darn big.
  • Do men and women lead differently? Is there such a thing as a “female style?” A recent analysis of forty-five separate studies addressing the questions found that the answer was “yes.” Women are slightly more likely to be “transformational” leaders, collectively setting goals and empowering their teams to achieve them. Men are more likely to be “transactional” leaders, letting subordinates know what is expected, rewarding them for their success, and holding them accountable for their failures. Not surprisingly, some leaders did not fit neatly into one or the other of these categories, but there was, nonetheless, a measurable difference based on gender.
  • Not only do women have a somewhat different style; it’s more likely to be successful. It’s further evidence that there is more than one way to bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan, that different leadership styles – regardless of their gender – can get the job done. And that gives everyone more options; it creates a more flexible, more adaptive and ultimately more productive workplace.
  • The areas of the brain that track gut feelings are larger and more sensitive in the female brain, according to brain scan studies. Therefore, the relationships between a woman’s gut feelings are her intuitive hunches are grounded in biology. Among other things, women are particularly sensitive to what other people may be feeling. An analysis of 125 separate studies found that, “women are better than men at decoding emotional messages – and better at spotting lies.”

As a mother to a boy and girl, I have my own unscientific observations of how the two sexes think and act differently. Currently, as I post my entry, my daughter has emptied her entire closet on the floor and started to iron each piece of clothing with her toy iron and board. In the meantime, her stuffed animals surround her each with its own tea set. Occasionally she’ll stop to refill every cup, give her “friends” a kiss, and stroke their fur, all the while engaged in full conversation with each of them as she continues conducting her daily chore! While at the same time, my son is playing baseball and running around the house using stuffed animals as the ball, smashing them with his bat, and hurling them through the air. This is the same boy that at the age of 2, would construct his PB&J sandwiches in the shape of a weapon and go around shooting his potato chips. Don’t get me wrong, my daughter has lots of energy, loves to get muddy and is very busy. But their creative play is instinctually different. A combination of nature and nurture no doubt.

Men and women are different but equal. Consequently, when building a healthy leadership team, be attuned to the distinctions, welcome the diversity, embrace the differences, and appreciate the vast array of skill sets and gift mixes both genders bring to the board table! What do you think?

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12 Responses to “Should Women Rule The World?”

  1. Well, I’ll bite and be the first to respond. I have not read the book, but I did thoroughly read through your blog.

    My “gut” and “intuition” tell me that women should not rule the world, but we might have a great position as co-leaders, or counselors, or consultants, or even tie-breakers. In other words, I believe we have weight, we have value, and we are altogether brilliant and should be listened to. Ha….how do you like that? I believe that God created us to be similar but different, and for us to excel in different areas for different reasons. Men seem to operate with less fear and more drive. I think we need that! But a balance is best.

    I loved the description of your kids and the way that they play. My Asher (3 – boy) loves his trains and trucks. He loves to run, chase, and climb. But he also is very tender…..he pretends we are hurt so that he can mend us with his doctor kit. He has imaginary friends and pets who are always needing him to take care of them. Asher even asks us to be quiet so they can sleep. He exaggerates his expressions of love…”Mommy I love you SOOOOOOOOO much”. But deep down, he’s a little daredevil. He weighs the consequences and takes risks. He’s a little man, with an obvious sensitive side. If he is going to be a leader someday, I sure hope there is a woman nearby to bring him balance.

  2. Melissa, you make GREAT points. Thanks for your feedback. A balance is best and would be helpful for so many organizations. I just love your sweet boy!!

  3. Lori K Says:

    Ooooohhhhh, great topic Eve!! I haven’t read the book, but certainly will soon. As I read your blog, I have recalled several leaders from my past and have come up with some comments and thoughts regarding them.

    Interestingly, I have had more female leaders/managers than male. Most have been good, one or two were great, however, at least one was pretty bad. The great and good female leaders shared a few common traits: driven but compassionate, creative, patient, goal-oriented, balanced with family/career and, of course, extremely intelligent. The one leader who wasn’t so great was very emotional, lazy and made very questionable and poor decisions.

    I say all of this because I do think that SOME women are great leaders. I had the privilege of working with several who have proven to me that it’s possible. Women ruling the world? Not 100% sure at this point but hopefully, after reading the book, I’ll have more of an opinion on this.

    Again, great post! Loving your blog!

  4. Great insight, Lori, as always. With power comes greater responsibility. I agree, as women leaders we need to insure that our own insecurities don’t threaten our ability to show compassion. Thanks for your thoughts!

  5. brandiandboys Says:

    Great post first of all! I have no leadership gifts, so this is purely speculation on my part. I think the best balance in leadership comes from the partnering of men and women. The hitch comes with the fact sometimes men and women don’t always “work” well together (for many different reasons that you are all thinking in your head). But I think both sexes bring positive aspects to the table and the mixing in leadership can bring huge success.

  6. I agree, Brandi. If we could all just get along! Mixing in leadership can bring the most success on any team. Thanks so much for your insight!

  7. Lori R. Says:

    Eve,
    Great and important blog. I have taught 6 years in an all boys school ( with a majority of male faculty and administration). I can comfirm one thing from my years of observations: that if woman do not step up and lead the world we are ALL in BIG trouble!

  8. Hey Lori, I hear ya! Without a diverse leadership team a staff is leading with blinders. Thanks for sharing!

  9. cgniv Says:

    Eve,

    Interesting points. Those who overlook the talents, gifts and abilities of women are missing out on huge opportunities in their lives and businesses. Thanks for the post!

    Charlie

  10. Melanie Says:

    Eve,
    I agree that balance is best. My final research study for my Master’s degree in Psychology was on male/female communication, and, are we ever different!! I work in the mixed fields of Counseling Psychology (with mostly female leaders) and Church Ministry (with mostly male leaders), and I have experienced many different leadership styles. I think the most important factor to keep in mind is knowing our personal God-given gifts and talents. Having the gift of leadership is far more important than the person’s gender, but having the balance of both genders is important. Thanks for the post!

  11. You make excellent points, Melanie. Discovering your God-given gifts and talents is the most important factor. And, a balance is key. Thanks for your thoughtful response, Mel. Tonight, I will post part 2: How Women Can Rule Their World!

  12. Jenni Catron Says:

    Eve – love the discussion here… I’m anxious to read the book now. The thing that I personally come back to when I wrestle through the issues of women in leadership is that we have to embrace who we are, how God has wired us, how we are gifted and operate in those things. I have experienced so many women trying to mimic other “successful” people only to lose themselves in the process. Your statement “rule YOUR world” sums this up perfectly. Embrace the place where you are and give it your best!


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