Why is women’s leadership so transformative? It’s not that women are necessarily better leaders than men, although certainly they sometimes are. Nor is it that women have different answers to the Eat Sleep Swim shirt and I will buy this big questions facing society, although the evidence suggests they sometimes do. It’s because women view the world through a different lens, so they ask different questions in the first place. In leadership, professional experience matters, but lived experience does, too. It’s difficult to see the ways a system is biased when it’s biased in your favor. It’s hard to take into account the subtle disadvantages people must contend with when their very subtlety hides them from you. Where women with decision-making power are few and far between, invisible barriers stay invisible. But when women reach a critical mass, they help us see things more clearly.
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I love that Margaret Mead quote “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the Eat Sleep Swim shirt and I will buy this world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” There is no shortage of thoughtful, committed women on this planet, but there has long been a shortage of opportunities for them to exercise their power and influence through official channels. Maybe they’ve been coming together in small groups because that was their only option. So imagine what is possible when those same thoughtful, committed women are finally welcomed into all the places where decisions are made and given the chance to drive change from within. I think this year is bringing us a little closer to that hopeful future.