Tuesday, September 20, 2005

GenderShift - The Greatest Social Change in History

I have just read an article about why the world needs more women leaders - a sentiment I wholeheartedly agree with but I couldn't help noticing that the article was written by a man and that there were huge assumptions about the commercial world that were entirely male in concept.

Let me explain. I changed gender four years ago - that is I present a female gender my id documents all say I am female and for the most part I am treated by people as a woman. What a shock that was. Interestingly last week I met someone on a course who told me a story about a friend who had changed gender and then decided to revert to male - the reason. He could not handle the loss of status and recognition that came with being a woman.

Its actually more than that. Now I am going to generalise a lot here and I know what I say is not all men - but in my experience it does apply to the majority. The public world has been created by men for men. Men from child hood are essentially competitive, and position against each other in determining where they rank. Power is determined according to the circumstances - sometimes its money, sometimes its physical strength, sometimes its daring, sometimes it's who can pull the best women. Men don't need a reason to compete just a set of criteria for measuring who won.

So they organise business along the same lines as they used to organise armies. Command and control structures that institutionalise competition and positioning. In business today they call the leaders Captains of Industry, the staff the troups and they all go out to do battle with their competitors. It really does not take a genius to see why women are going to struggle to succeed in this enviromment.

Women are collaborators, they work together not in competition. I am not saying no women compete, but many compete because the system makes it so that they must and they get reputations as "bitches" - Margaret Thatcher revelled in the title the "Iron Lady" - she is I believe in a minority.

When I first experienced networking as a woman I was quite taken aback at how different the experience was. Women made a point of finding out what support I needed and went out of their way to connect me with the right women who could provide it . One women(and I have lost the reference) said "I don't want to be at the top of my organisation, I want to be at the centre of it." This is a totally different structure of organisation based on networks not heirarchies.

Women can and will be great leaders but first they will have to dismantle the male dominated heiracharcial structures which is why so many are bailing out of the corporations to start their own businesses. Why competition - surely if we all collaberate we can overcome the huge disparities of wealth and create a more equitable planet. Why when a corporation is worth $100 billion is it still so focused on economic growth - why not human growth. Because wealth is power and for men the ultimate goal of business is power - it's not the amount that is important, it's having more than the competitors.

We are experiencing GenderShift, the most signifcant social change in recorded history where the influence of women will ultimately transform the world - it's going to be a very different world and one men are going to have some challenges in coming to terms with, but change it will - because one thing the human species is good at is survival and if we continue with the male dominated culture of greed and competition we will not survive.

The GenderShift will take place because the survival of the human race requires it to happen.

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