I’ve been fortunate to work with a number of strong, amazing women, many of whom have stories of times when they have been (or felt they’ve been) shut out of important discussions in their professional lives simply because of their gender. I’m always sad to hear that they face this treatment and strive myself to treat everyone with whom I work (and, frankly, everyone I meet) with respect.
I got a small taste of how this feels as PTA president when I’d be the only man in a meeting and the women would never address me. Education, it seems, is so overwhelmingly associated with women that as a man I felt like an interloper. Other PTA volunteers would so often applaud the efforts of “our PTA ladies” that rather that fight the point it was easier just to quietly consider myself an “honorary lady.” There are ongoing efforts to get more dads involved in PTA but I came to realize that the deck is stacked against them.
Another thing I have noticed after years of serving on various boards and groups is that some women love to call the shots but only if they’re not the actual leader. They have strong views of how things should be done but when given the opportunity to take charge of the changes they demur. This drives me nuts because I know what they’re capable of doing – these are women who are great leaders – but for whatever reason are reluctant to be in charge. I don’t know if this is a culture thing or what but many women seem to hold themselves back – a self-imposed glass ceiling. They have so much going for them! If they’d only step up and add the authority to their ideas they would have it all.
It might come down to men and women leading differently. Or it might come down to me being full of shit, too. As an off-again-on-again leader myself, though, I do enjoy studying the topic.