Organisations' commitment to military lingo means that women are kept out of the trenches and away from the frontline, claims Raina Brands
Judith Baxter's insight:
It’s great to see an article on language on the Guardian Women in Leadership page, and especially one that recognises the way that language is a powerful force in perpetuating masculine thought and action in workplaces. My concern is the way the author assumes that ‘women think (and speak) differently’ as this makes massive generalisations about the way gender determines our identities. As I have often argued, gender is just one (very important) variable that constructs who we are, which includes our age, ethnicity, education, class, personalities and so much more! So while I agree that masculine, military jargon is yet another barrier for women leaders who remain discriminated against as a social group, there are many women out there who refashion and use such jargon for their own purposes. With the news yesterday that the British army is considering lifting its ban on women serving in combat units and preparing to allow them to fight alongside men in the infantry, it is time to realise that language may be a historical barrier only. Women are as capable as men of using or challenging the use of military jargon in the workplace.
Today, The Guardian has launched a new section which focuses on gender diversity in the workplace and the changes that need to happen, in order to see more women in leadership roles. This page would be a useful link if you want to learn more about the issues women still face in the business world.
An interesting blog post to help improve your leadership skills by using different linguistic techniques, such as encouraging contributions, motivating others and retaining a positive attitude. However, this blog post only covers a few linguistic strategies compared to how many techniques one can essentially use. For more information visit http://leadershiptalk.blogs.aston.ac.uk/
When Beyonce tells America to do something, we do it. (But not because she’s bossy).
Just one day after the iconic pop star helped launch BanBossy.com, a campaign and website urging people to stop calling women "bossy," the site h...
Judith Baxter's insight:
Interesting. Only yesterday I gave a talk at Aston University about my research on mixed gender leadership teams. I described the case of a woman middle manager who had really wanted to take the lead in her team of colleagues to achieve a business task but felt she couldn't do so in case she was viewed as 'pushy' or 'bossy'. It seems that women themselves have learnt to view themselves through men's eyes and use the derogatory language against themselves. If women could stop calling each other 'bossy', or seeing themselves as bossy, they could lead the way towards structural change.
Power in the workplace has traditionally been defined as force, dominance, assertiveness, strength, invincibility, and authority. As we observe others rise to higher levels of leadership, we ask ourselves "How do they do it?" Our observations can easily lead us to conclude that the most powerful (most dominant) make it to the top and that the rule of thumb is that to rise to a leadership position, we must bring into play our behaviors of force, dominance, aggression, and strength.
However, power and leadership are being redefined. No longer are we comfortable equating leadership with force, and power with dominance. In forward-thinking corporations, power is shifting from I-centric to We-centric, and this shift requires a commitment and a plan of action.
Throughout history, leadership has been critical to performance, to success, and to the greater good. The "leader" is often perceived as a solitary, charismatic figure, similar to a movie star. People behind the scenes are often not acknowledged, despite the fact that they all play critical roles!
Lots of great insights here but what about the language of leadership? We need to know much, much more about how women and men can use the right language to change business culture. Emotional intelligence programmes are slowly changing the attitudes of men to listen, become more responsive, co-operative and supportive of others. Women generally have learnt how to do this but still find the need to assert their presence and make an impact challenging. Leaders need both types of linguistic behaviour – co-operative and assertive – and they need to learn the right types of linguistic tools to rise to the top. Using ‘we’ instead of ‘I’ is certainly one strategy but there are many more such as asking open questions to encourage people to get involved, share ideas or get business done. For more detail, see http://leadershiptalk.blogs.aston.ac.uk/
The issue of women in the workplace is part of a wider debate about encouraging diversity. This article written by Nigel Knowles, co-CEO of DLA Piper, explains why diversity in the workplace is indeed beneficial!
Abigail Player is a PhD student at the Centre for the Study of Group Processes at Kent University's school of Psychology. She reports why stereotypes keep getting in the way of progress in terms of gender equality in the workplace.
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