This post shared from guest faculty members Kristin Haffert and Jessica Grounds. See more from Kristin and Jessica here.
We began to be exposed to the issue of gender imbalance when we were in college. For Kristin, it was during her studies at Rutgers University where she learned that clinical trials for heart disease at the National Institutes of Health, only included men, even though heart disease is the leading killer of women. And for Jessica, it was her junior year in college when she worked on her first political campaign in California for a woman running for the state assembly. She quickly understood the power of political office, but also the fact that few women represented the public in elected bodies throughout the country. In each instance we wondered, how is this lack of representation by women impacting the outcomes?
We were inspired to this work for different reasons and now after decades of experience working globally to advance women’s leadership and develop approaches to incorporate gender differences into business models, policy-making, and leadership strategy, we find that we are still stuck.
Women to continue to make up only 20% of U.S. Congress, 5% of Fortune 500 CEO’s, and just 38% of tenured professor positions. We see the low representation of women in leadership as a near universal problem globally. So why is this and what can we do?
Two years ago, we created Mine the Gap in a business climate where we continue to see that organizations do not understand the strategic advantage of bringing women into leadership roles with men. When men and women understand and respect each other more deeply in their professions, productivity flourishes and retention improves. When an organization works to build a gender inclusive environment, the organization is more innovative, nimble, and profitable. More women leaders, working with men, open up new markets, perspectives, and approaches. But most industries have a long way to go to put these strategies into practice. There is a competitive advantage to advancing a culture where gender differences are seen as a benefit, not a liability.
As last year’s Scientific American cover page explains, This is Not a Women’s Issue. This is an issue that is disrupting the workplace today. We are limiting the potential of our workforce. We are underutilizing our talent and we are losing ground. The potential is there if we are aware and strategic.
We are teaching a course at the Institute for Transformational Leadership, housed at Georgetown’s School of Continuing Studies, because we want to equip professionals with the knowledge base and skills to better understand the challenges that women face accessing places of power, and how we can be more intentional to grow women’s leadership. We want to equip business leaders with the knowledge to become more gender aware and see the strategic advantage gender balanced teams offer. In the climate of #MeToo and #TimesUp, there is a rich conversation about issues impacting women and men. We will be sharing strategies that we use globally with our clients.
Come learn how you can mine the gender gap and become a trailblazer on gender dynamics in your field.