Why Women Move The World Forward
Cover Image: @morankoren, athlete, dancer and FRÉ Ambassador
Friday, March 8th is our opportunity to use our unique influence as women to create positive solutions for change.
“International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.” - The UN
The 2019 theme, #BalanceForBetter, focuses on building a gender-balanced world. Gender balance means creating (and holding accountability for) equal gender representation in government, media, business, wealth, education, and every contributing facet that gives economies and communities the liberty to truly thrive. Balance is not just a state that purpose-driven content creators like you and I can aspire to have more of. It’s a human-rights issue.
@presleykp.fit, firefighter and FRÉ Ambassador
Achieving gender balance requires attention, collective action and transformative shifts that empower women and all marginalized groups.
The workplace is an especially important area to check and “balance the scales”, considering we spend 13 years of our lives working.
Did you know that according to the World Bank, women account for 66% of the world’s working hours but only 10% of the world income?
What I’m about to say isn’t anything new, but important messages need to be repeated until it becomes a movement.
Women are underrepresented in leadership roles.
5% of CEOs at Fortune 500 companies are women, and only about 34% of global managers are women. - Global Gender Gap Report
Again, I’m not saying anything groundbreaking here...… and bias has zero precedent in this statement:
Women make exceptional leaders.
There is unrivaled strength in women. We make great leaders because the odds are stacked against us to lead.
@stephchung2, 2018 CrossFit Games Athlete and FRÉ Ambassador
Gender bias and discrimination plays out against women in hiring, particularly in science-related fields, but that didn’t stop Jennifer Doudna from becoming one of the greatest living scientists.
Doudna invited groundbreaking technology for editing genomes (CRISPR-Cas9), which allows scientists to make insanely-precise changes to DNA in cells.
See, women fight to get to where women deserve to be.
I sincerely stand behind hiring “the right person for the job”, regardless of gender, class, creed, color, and sexuality.
But, I also believe that women, in general, are important agents in moving the world forward…
… Partially thanks to these three unique capabilities:
- Women problem-solve differently
Women have more volume (and higher levels of activity) in the frontal and limbic cortices of their brains, providing an advantage in cognitive functions like language, judgement, planning and impulse control.
The frontal cortex is the center for anticipating consequences, which explains why women often will define a problem in broader terms and examine a wider array of factors to watch out for before suggesting potential solutions.
According to a study by the Alliance for Board Diversity, African-American women and women from Asian and Pacific Island backgrounds made the largest progress in terms of representation percentage on Fortune 100 and 500 boards.
Having an average of three women represented on large company boards seems to be the “tipping point” to see a return on diversity.
And cultivating diversity and inclusion in the workplace benefits company morale; paving way for even greater positive impact.
2. Women check their egos.
Ego gets in the way of good decision-making, and women show ego differently.
A reason for this may be because of our socialization and our well-founded need to belong. A desire further intensified thanks to how interconnected we are now through technology.
But here’s where it gets interesting. Instead of hiding or acting out of ego, I see amazing women every day sharing what they are insecure about on social media.
Honesty and vulnerability are trending. Perhaps even more powerful, are the moments where one woman holds space for another woman as she speaks about her experience.
Since the viral spread of “Me Too” by Tarana Burke, I’ve started to see fewer women talking over one another.
Still, there’s work that lies ahead.
As an opportunity to solidify my point on women possessing the ability to drop their ego *wink*, I challenge you this International Women’s Day to get uncomfortable by diagnosing how you benefit from your privilege.
You in? Check out these articles in particular:
3. Women have high emotional intelligence.
Higher levels of emotional intelligence (EQ) gives women an edge in the workplace.
In business, successful negotiation usually requires two things: the ability to build trusting relationships and having influence. Ranking high in emotional intelligence tackles both of these requirements.
EQ is in how well you can collaborate, how well you can read a room and gauge what the peripheral audience thinks of the situation. It’s inside the stories you share and how you humanize data that sets you apart.
And women rock at this.
"Women tend to be better at emotional empathy than men, in general," Dr. Dan Goleman wrote in Psychology Today.
"This kind of empathy fosters rapport and chemistry. People who excel in emotional empathy make good counselors, teachers and group leaders because of this ability to sense in the moment how others are reacting."
Women's empathy and relationship-building abilities allows them to quickly build influence with others.
@sportblake, professional athlete, performance coach, mentor and FRÊ Ambassador
And when it comes to negotiation, influence has a higher value over authority.
Traditionally, men often head spear negotiation by taking an authoritative position.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with that, I believe it’s not the most effective because everyone involved has some level of resistance to authority.
Helen Fisher, Ph.D. in her TED Talk explains this best (15:01), “Women tend to view power as a group of connections. Men tend to view power as rank… Girls want harmony. They live in a world of win-win”.
It’s a shared belief among many: When one woman wins, we all win. This pro-social mindset is advantageous in being more socially skilled and better at building trust via intimate connection.
Women use trust as an emotional currency to later influence decision-making.
And people respond more favorably to influence over authority. Influence is more chill; there’s less air of abusing power. So, women have an edge in negotiation as this is brain-hardwired to come naturally.
A woman’s influence and ability to steer opposing opinions in their favor is generated by empathizing with the person they’re negotiating with, and showing they are actively listening through validating “I hear you” statements and a natural (yet highly methodical) approach to asking follow up questions.
As I mentioned before, there isn’t anything here that is wild breaking news.
But, higher frequency = higher effectiveness.
The more times the “women in the workplace” conversation is had, the more likely we’ll be able to push companies to prioritize diversity and inclusion and tackle other human rights problems such as ageism and disability.
Women possess infinitely imaginative abilities for shaping social change;
ABAAD Founder, Ghida Anani, deploys powerful creative activism against this archaic, misogynistic law (now repealed, thanks to ABAAD efforts) that allowed men accused of rape to escape charges if they married their victim pursuit towards ending gender-based violence.
- Shockingly, 65% of women avoid going to the gym for fear of being judged for how they look while exercising. This Girl Can is encouraging 1.6 million active women to get sweaty, regardless of shape, size or ability, in their #FitGotReal campaign.
This International Women’s Day, we are calling upon our FRE Ambassadors to spread the message that women are catalysts for social change.
Share how you think we, the FRÉnds, can help move the world forward as a community.