Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Women's Work

A recent Washington Post article: 'Fixing the economy? It's women's work.'

And in Marie Claire in July, the 'Big Question' was 'Could women rescue the world?' 'Worldwide recession, global warming, war...would the planet be in such a mess if women were in charge?'

Part of me wants to say, Yes, women would make a better job of running the world and fixing the economy. But two things stop me. One, to say women would make a better job of these things is too essentialist for my liking. I've just written an article which basically maintains what most research argues: that women and men don't lead that differently.

And two, there is a God dimension to running the world and fixing the economy! No matter whether it's men or women in charge, without regard to God's ways I'm not sure either sex is going to make that good a job of it.

Marie Claire - it was a bit of a feminist rant, but I liked one sentence a lot. 'Our world would be more Garden of Eden, less Soho at closing time on the last night on earth.' Sadly, though, given the level of binge drinking by some young women, I'm not sure women's world would be so 'Garden of Eden'. When it came to the way the writer pointed out how female politicans are treated by the media, though (only interested in their clothes, not whether they can do the job), I was with her all the way.

The Washington Post article is somewhat more serious writing. You can read it by clicking here. The gist is that companies with more women in senior management roles make more money. In Fortune 500 companies, having three or women women in senior management positions made it more likely the company would outperform the competition. Reading between the lines, the research is not actually saying that women are better managers, but that gender diversity is important.

They also cite research which sees a connection between hormonal differences and leadership styles - men are more prone to competition and risk-taking, and women to collaboration and long-term results.

I do find this a little confusing, because another piece of serious research on women leaders suggests they are better than men at taking risks (of the right sort). And as men and women we are much more than the sum of our hormones!

The article also mentions something called the 'diversity prediction theorem', which says that a diverse group will solve a complicated business problem better than a homogeneous group. I suspect most people would think that was obvious!

But while not everyone has got the message, perhaps it is still worth saying. By this token, the Anglican Church would benefit from having women in the House of Bishops, and male-dominated leadership teams and committees might benefit from considering how the voices of women could contribute.

For Christians, it's not about making more money, it's much more important than that. The Church is about spiritual life and death. We can't afford not to use all the gifts God gives.

1 comment:

karen said...

I think you're right in saying that gender diversity is the important thing.
Gender diversity gives rise to healthier ways of working together, in the secular world and in the church.