Leading Ourselves to a Better Future: A Feminine Approach to Organization
As a white woman, raised in a white male system, talking about the differences between men and women is a touchy subject. First, any acknowledgements of difference between men and women brings the risk of supporting the jerks in their efforts to prove the natural inferiority of women. Then, you realize the jerks probably won't be reading a SIP on feminine leadership. So you begin to worry about the next problem -- offending the "nice" men who do read the SIP. You know you're going to criticize some parts of the system that dominate your life and, very possibly, criticize them and their behaviors and opinions. So you say, "I'll just be really careful. Always write 'feminine' and 'masculine' in quotation marks. Keep saying 'not all men are like this, but .... '" After ten days of looking blankly at your computer screen, you realize, "Hey, this is the problem. Every conversation about women always ends up centering around where men fit in and how men will be hurt if we talk about women and their talents." When we look at leaders, we can place them on a spectrum of characteristics that has "feminine" on one side and "masculine" on the other (see Appendix 3) . I will submit this disclaimer once and only once: there are men and women falling everywhere within this spectrum, there are women at the most "masculine" end and men at the most "feminine." But for the most part, the descriptors "masculine" and "feminine" are not inappropriate as women generally fall on the feminine side and men on the masculine. To acknowledge that women offer a different type of leadership than what our society traditionally understands as leadership is to recognize there is a feminine culture. We Americans all live in a white male culture, a "White Male System."l In preparing my SIP I have spent a good deal of time trying to find an equal number of criticisms of the female and male system. This is an academic project and I didn't want to appear to be biased. I am. American culture has spent too much time in this white male system and I strongly believe it's time the system started learning from women, African Americans, Mexican Americans, Native Americans and other people on the fringe of the white male system.
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