So why haven’t things changed?
I’ve come to believe it’s because we’re looking in the wrong place, trying to solve the wrong problem and coming up with the wrong solutions.
Like so many conversations about women I’ve participated in over the decades, the WOA conference quickly degenerated into problematising women by identifying a long of list of what’s wrong with us: apparently we hold back because of concerns about the way we look, our age, our weight, doubt about our readiness, lack of confidence in our own expertise, and so on.
I’m familiar with this trap: Let’s Fix Women. Let’s empower them, train them, network them. Let’s get more of them into the boardroom and on-air by creating lists of women qualified to be there.
Network compiled such a list twenty years ago. Did it make any difference?
Well, there are more women in boardrooms these days and more women in senior positions of all kinds, including behind the scenes in the media. Even more reason to wonder why, with our increased presence, things haven’t changed.
According to the WOA conference, it’s because just at the moment when women should be ‘leaning in’ women ‘lean out’ to have children, and never quite catch up again. We have Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg to thank for that much quoted but rather convenient and simplistic analysis, which tells the corporate world what it wants to hear but doesn’t challenge its culture. And everyone in Dublin Castle seemed to buy it.
But what if it’s only half the story?