Here’s the opening words from the forward of Linda Tarr-Whelan’s book:
Picture this: A problem of vital importance emerges in your community, and you are asked to gather a team you deem essential to its solution. Then you are told that you can’t use half of the collected intelligence. That is basically the problem we face in politics and across America – we systemically neglect one of our nation’s most vital resources: women.
Tarr-Whelan argues that 30% is all that is needed for a tipping point to be reached. If boards etc comprise just 30% women then real change starts to happen. There is more consensus, collaboration and communication across the board! And even though her focus is on America it works for UK readers too.
She has a series of practical steps for women to follow. For example, in the chapter ‘Lifting as We Climb’ there is a tips section which begins
This Week I Will….
- Informally mentor another women at work to pass on what I had to learn in the school of “hard knocks”.
- Offer to help a younger women or girl realise her dreams by finding the time to write a recommendation letter.
- Find an opportunity to provide constructive advice or a compliment to a woman colleague with leadership potential.
- Invest in helping woman-to-woman to give me energy to “keep on keeping on”.
In common with some other feminist writers, Tarr-Whelan knows that it is also essential to bring men in to support the cause to achieve significant change. But her emphasis is on getting women in there and then leavening the path for others to follow. She deplores the idea that women must behave like men. And in what might be viewed as a typical women’s strategy she suggests stepping inside the shoes of those in power (empathy).
And she ends with her dreams for 2020 when there is a balanced leadership in play. Her five big dreams are:
#1 Women leaders are at every political table to assure the needed changes in systems and institutions.
#2 Womenomics is a widely supported mainstream strategy to grow a productive, competitive economy. Borads and top management have at least 30% women. Women are seen as expected (rather than unusual) leaders.
#3 A revitalised social compact places a premium on social and personal responsibility, caring and compassion, families, and community.
#4 A recognised accountability framework of standards and measurements exists to monitor progress, assure open opportunity, close the gaps, and tap the skills and leadership capacity of women as well as man.
#5 Young women grow up expecting to be leaders just like young men – but with a difference.
If this is your area (ie like me) , there is much familiar territory here but I do like her specific actions and aims and in particular her ‘This week I will’ or ‘Takeway’boxes in each chapter. I have included it in Book Reviews as I think it’s a useful resource and one that’s worth having on your shelf, with actions worth following.
Posted on April 14th, 2011 by Jane