Indra and I have been to a quite a few events in London recently on the topic of women in politics. The overwhelming feeling at these events is one of despair and anger. The speakers, quite rightly, speak movingly about the injustice that faces women in leadership. There simply are more men in power and its hard for women to break into that space.
Whilst this is undoubtedly true, The Downing Street Project is about something else. We are about looking to the future where women are sharing leadership with men and that a change has been made to the world because of this. We need to move away from complaining about what doesn’t work, and there is plenty of that, to creating a vision of the future. A future that compels us to engage, to speak up and to move forward into leadership roles ourselves.
Let’s start the discussion. What difference do you think it would make to the UK or the world if at least 50% of elected MP’s were women?
To me, it's really important to remember that women are not neccesairly softer than men and consequently will not by default impose laws for families and children and make politics more human. They might. The big difference would be the level of discussion, as with all groups - the better the mix of men and women the more productive and diverse the outcome. Both men and women have tendencies to take on certain gender behaviour stereotypes (interestingly one that Barack Obama is challenging)
Eventually, the conversations we all have about who looks after the children, pay gaps, the expected level of time sacrifice would mould the question over - what re we prepared to give up and what is the real cost for a certain society - would perhaps be more challenged and more real as the one who are paied the less, who are responsible for the children, would not be so easily dismissed as they would be very much present....
Step by step, conversation by conversation, I believe fundamental meaningful transformation of our UK society will happen when we value and share our natural talents, motivations, desires, preferences and purpose! So if we have 50% of elected MPs are women, these women need to be fully in touch with their merit as a human being, to be aware of their own dynamics as women and sure of their emotional and intellectual contribution.
I agree with Vanessa that women can be tough in their decisions as well as soft in their sensitivity for awarenss. As long as those elected remember to be women and not pretend to be men then we will be OK. As Sharon says we don't need to act as men even if we have a strong masculine 'mindset' as I do! We're also aware of our strength as women and our gentleness as nurturers of human life.
I believe, if we develop the right mindset, attitude and behaviour, more women in power will bring a tipping point to ensuring 'soft power' is used to govern this country and fairness, honur, respect and love may at last become common sense 'wisdom' and guidance in government. I think if we don't challenge men on their ground, but become strong in our female nature and brilliance, we will attract many likeminded men who desire change now.
I think women are more able to address the issues of 'work' in the alignment with 'life'; to create rules and regulations in alignment with common sense and community needs, deal with family pressures aligned to marketplace requirements. These women will understand the consumer needs and the desirable customer service that might make the UK a viable economy once again!
We do need to step up and speak with conviction about what is important...and if we can understand both men and women and our combined needs then we women will step up with both parties listening....we need to know ourselves very well first!! If women sabotage each other (and themselves) we will never be able to convince men that we are capable to run as equal and balanced leaders - we have all the capablities yet as Lee says it doesn't sound like that is the norm currently - as yet we are still at the mercy of men in Parliament (and business)!
It's time to change and for me it starts with circles of trust, can we do that? YES YES YES let's break into that space you mentioned Lee... and engage men with us....
I have a passion to create a healthier future where 'work' evolves from the traditonal concepts we have known to a more sustainable socio-economic model .... I have worked for ten years within my cultural change work where I know that when people are enaged from the inside-out then all manner of good things occurr...men and women understanding their natural contributions and talking with common purpose makes the difference....how fab!!
I believe love makes the world grow, life wisdom is our guide, masculine and feminine energy is complimentary and necessary elements of full growth and potential, and purposeful shared conversation is our best mechanism for action, do you agree?
It's an interesting debate, isn't it? I've been at the Skoll World Forum for Social Entrepreneurs this week (www.skollworldforum.com) and was encouraged to see what appeared to be around a 40/60% women to men ratio in attendance. I suspect that that rise of social enterprise will bring with it a rise in female leadership.
My whole interest in this subject arose from the work of Carol Gilligan in the 1970's. She showed that girls and boys reason differently during their development when it came to questions of morality . The girls showed what we would now understand as a more systemic view of moral questions and the boys a more linear approach. The boys would apply the learned moral rule, regardless of the complexities of the situation but the girls would want to know what they considered to be all the salient facts before making a decision. This had previously been interpreted as them being 'too emotional' to take the hard decision.
I believe that business is entering into a more moral or ethical phase and that the more systemic vision we have as women will be sorely needed. I believe that if we have a more balanced leadership culture, one that allows for systemic, connected thinking alongside the more masculine linear thinking, we will create a whole set of different priorities for our laws and spending policies.
Hi Lee, I was just reading your post and also some of the other entries and this gives a lot of food for thought. I really think the whole issue (as I know you agree) is bigger than bringing 50% women into leadership, although this has to be pursued wholeheartedly. But having just re-read quite a bit of Ken Wilber's Theory of Everything again this weekend, I am more and more convinced that we have to not leave the inner development out of the picture and that the four quadrants have to be equally represented when we look at the issue of women's leadership (it was great to see your brainstorm with Indra on the 4 quadrants). Just getting more women into politics won't do. But shared dialogue and a lot of room for questions and dialogue between men and women are, I think, the way to go.... as many structures have to be broken down and recreated. The whole world is screaming out for authentic ethics and higher moral values but many of us are not quite sure how to bring them about, especially when it gets down to the interpersonal spheres, out of the idea realm. I think that we need to address this at DSP, and make it part of the agenda. Acknowledging the development of (a collective) consciousness also demystifies the term 'Soft Power' which is something that does manifest across genders in basic universal (not necessarily feminine) human values - respect, trust, working together for a greater purpose and the right reasons, etc. I think the whole issue of trust and respect between men and women can only be really authentically lived if we start looking from within and start to explore those issues together, and don't loose the whole picture and (political) vision in the process. It is exciting to open up this discussion....
You're right Renata. That's why we aim to have a think tank arm to DSP - so that there are new narratives and frameworks within which a softer powered leadership can arise. Women entering politics within the hard masculine culture that exists now, will not deliver the real developments we are hoping for - we need to work on all fronts, together with men. What is your vision of how that will look? With more women on the scene, will there be more polarity of masculine and feminine - or more meeting in the middle, do you think?