It was a cold, rainy day in Berlin. It was one of those rainy days in September that was foretelling the approaching fall and winter. I was pretty ecstatic because it meant tights and sweater weather. Simple joys in life.
It was a coffee meet up with a group of strong and supportive women. I told them about my thesis on women leadership and my struggle to get people to take my survey.
One of the women suggested that the reason might be because my thesis is on women leadership and not just leadership. I’m focusing on a woman as a defined group from the rest.
Is she right?
I understand her concerns. I dream of a day when we do not have to put individual emphasis on a suppressed group in order to progress change. When that time comes, it would have meant we achieved gender equality, and there is no need for differentiation.
But the truth is, I more than anything wish I could just say ‘leadership’ and not ‘women leadership’. This would mean that we’ve reached a level of equality, where opportunities are equal, stereotypes are gone and humans are not held back by social-generated categories.
I dream of this today. But the truth is we are not close. I used to believe the fight for equality was a past generation’s fight, but it’s not. It’s a continued and steady fight for parity. Yes, we can’t fight with the same methods as the 1950s-60s, but we risk moving backward if we don’t continue to support gender equality advances.
This is why I am writing this thesis. To get people thinking. To bring a voice of optimism to a rather suppressed field (STEM) that lacks equality. To tell the story of those that have succeeded and given the tools to the next generation of women leaders so that they can be two steps ahead.
This is why I’m writing my thesis. Are we ready to ditch “women” from women leadership? My answer is no. Until I see statistics that reflect parity across ALL career fields, I will continue to encourage women directly to advance in leadership and fight for equal say, equal pay, equal whatever.
I wish we were ready. For my own sake! As someone entering the workforce at 26-years-old. I wish it would be easy for me, but it will not be. We change the approach, but the steady equality fight continues. Are we ready to ditch the word “women” from women leadership?