My Experience at the Women in Leadership Luncheon

When I first heard of the Women’s Leadership Luncheon, I was excited. Attached to the email was a survey, asking which seminar I was going to attend, what I expected to get out of this event, what I think makes the perfect leader, and whether gender has any influence on leadership. I said I expected to get tools to improve my leadership style. I said that a leader (although there is never a perfect one; there is always room for improvement), is able to connect to the people that he/she is leading, is open-minded, and listens to others. When it came to gender, I said yes. Gender definitely has extreme influence on leadership. Personally, I have had many leadership roles where I was either the only female or I was one of the few females there. My authority was sometimes questioned due to the fact that I was female. Going to this luncheon, I was defensive, since I had faced this biases before. 

When I arrived, there were two rooms for the seminar. One side being for women in leadership while one side was for men in leadership. When I saw a few men enter the Woman in Leadership slide, I was on alert. I felt that they might say something that was biased about women in leadership roles. Then, the wall separating the men’s and women’s side was removed. There were ground rules established for this presentation, such as keeping it safe and our viewpoints can maybe be flawed. Some questions that were brought up in the presentation were: Is it fair to assume traits of a leader by gender? What role does social perceptions or social contracts play in understanding leadership? Who must change to overcome workplace inequality? And Think of your leaders. If they were the opposite gender, would they be treated differently? Why?A discussion followed with most telling their personal experiences. The main topic that emerged from this conversation was perspective and environment. People will have biases and pre-judgement due to the environment they were raised in and that they need to change their perspective. 

Finally, the key points that we were meant to take away was the Golden Rule VS Platinum Rule.  The Golden Rule states “treat others the way you want to be treated,” while the Platinum rule states “Treat others the way they want to be treated,” The world is not gender binary. The Trait/Environmental Theory of Leadership teaches that leaders must get past themselves and make it “safe” for others. Attendee Grace Tevaseu said, “I learned to adapt leadership to the group that I am leading despite their gender but based off their characteristics and traits.” I 100 percent agree with this statement. What I took away from this what to keep an open mind and to shape my leadership style to the group I am leading.

For more information on this topic, or if you would like to continue the discussion please feel free to contact Dr. Big Mountain at bigmounm@erau.edu.

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