The true power of women is emerging and it's not about how many Jills will become CEOs instead of Johns. Female representation is only half of the story on the road to equality. Organisations and individuals are missing the point when female empowerment and success is about pushing women through the 'pipeline' to the top of the masculine system.
"I'm my own biggest obstacle. I don't know where to start. I don't believe in myself and am frightened of not being perfect." Annie is a very smart, ambitious and successful woman working at high level in finance. Like so many women, her inner drive is calling her to show up fully but she's finding ways to avoid pursuing her ideas and her dreams.
At DrivenWoman, the global women’s empowerment network and accountability platform, we meet thousands of women who feel stuck and frustrated without understanding the root cause of their problem. We meet women who are sticking to careers that look great on their CV but aren't fulfilling and meaningful on a deeper level. We meet women who successfully climb the corporate ladder but end up isolated and burned out.
Man's value system as the norm
The society as a whole - our moral norms and what is considered valuable - has been built men as a default beneficiary. There's an assumption that the male value system is better:
* Competition over collaboration
* Hierarchical rather than equal
* Winner takes it all –thinking
* There’s not enough to go around mentality ("survival of the fittest")
* Success as a one dimensional concept based on material gains
Women are encouraged to lean in, to adapt and to become super women. The celebration of strength over gentleness, speed over nurturing and logic over intuition has left women feeling confused, overwhelmed, left out and undervalued at work.
The feminine traits such as collaboration, creativity, intuition, joy, balance, appreciation of beauty, emotion, empathy and nurturing are not qualities celebrated by our society or corporations at large. In fact, femininity has been considered even by the feminist movement as a social construct making those values further discounted.
Eliminating gender differences is not the answer. Stopping little girls playing with princesses may do very little to promote gender equality. Why can't women be women and be valued exactly as they are? Why does society still shy away from the full expression of the feminine?
Historic shaming of the feminine
The worship of the masculine value system and the origins of sexism developed at a time when humans were dependent on protecting farmland and passing it onto the next generation. It served a purpose when human life was mostly about survival.
It has not been safe to be a woman. Historically, women had to fit a man-made mould to be accepted which meant the feminine way was banished. Women who expressed their feminine power were shamed, ridiculed or even killed. Doing things the feminine way was not something anybody wanted to hear about in business or in politics. The feminine was considered lesser and weaker thus less valuable than the masculine.
Women feel paralysed at the gates of feminine power
As a woman today, our brain tells us we are unhappy, but when we want to do something about it we get stopped. The modern woman has more freedom and opportunities at her disposal than ever before, yet we feel unable to move forward.
The subconscious conditioning of what is 'safe' for a woman is holding us back. Many women feel overwhelming fear when they move towards their true desires and power. It looks much safer to adopt the masculine strategies for success. Becoming 'one of the boys' is acceptable. So women become 'warriors', wear 'steel heels' and will 'fight their way to the top'. Some of the women you see at the top of organisations are much better at protecting the masculine code than any men ever will.
There's value in the feminine
Women want to be leaders, CEOs, astronauts, scientists and artists and more. Of course - we can be anything we want to be!
Trying to do more of the same and expect a different results is insanity. A recent research by Michelle King shows that men believe that women have an equal opportunity to reach their goals at work. To some extend that is correct. We do if we go about doing it the masculine way.
What is missing is those organisations and individuals seeing the value in the feminine.
The corporate world talks about getting more women into the 'pipeline'. We're questioning if that's the real answer to equality and equal opportunity. Pumping more women through the system is going to do just half the job.
The true feminine power will burst the 'pipes'. Perhaps that's why organisations are reluctant to embrace the feminine? But on the same breath, 55% of respondents at PwC's annual CEO survey noted ‘inability to innovate effectively' as a number one reason impacting their growth.
Making space for the feminine to flourish
On an individual level, it's unrealistic for women to expect men to serve our feminine values on a plate. There's inner work we need to do in order to show up and explain what we actually want. Now is the moment to shape our future and learn to embrace who we really are.
On an organisational level companies who see the value in the feminine must make space for the feminine to emerge and recognise that structures will have to change. Ridiculing 'the emotional woman' is no longer an option.
To celebrate the feminine doesn’t mean that the masculine would not be valued. It's not a battle of the sexes. One is not better than the other.
We of course need the masculine, but it’s time to accept that a masculine only approach doesn't work. Not for women as individuals: for our creativity, fulfilment and happiness. It doesn’t work for the men either having to perform to outdated masculine role models. And it certainly doesn't work for corporations who are missing the true creative power of their female workforce.
DrivenWoman is a female only empowerment platform and accountability network, that helps ambitious women to achieve their goals and dreams by creating positive habits one step at a time. Thousands of women around the world have joined our program and are achieving their life goals, which range from entrepreneurial dreams to career change or simply being more confident in their own skin and enjoying life in the present moment.
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