To Be a Woman in Business is to know what it’s like to be invisible.
Every Woman has felt it.
You get mansplained so often you either freak out and call him on it or you silence yourself. In neither instance are you being heard. Your Boldness to claim your space will spike your “fight or flight” instincts. You will get an adrenaline rush and your clear thought pattern will be interrupted and deflected. This MANSPLAINING has evolved from many generations of men suppressing women. Just the expired adage of “a woman should be seen and not heard” Ouch! screams loudly to the shackles of control that women have lived under. This suppression does not dissolve just because women have the right to vote, drive a car and have a career outside of the home. We still have to fight for ownership of our own ideas at every table that we lean into tenaciously.
When it comes to MANSPLAINING, most men don’t even realize that they do it. It is hardwired into them to just talk right over women. It takes a pretty high level of feminist awakening for him to control it all! If, as a woman, she does succeed at regaining the floor, hopefully with an apology, (sincere or not), she will most definitely be flagged as “bossy” “bitchy” et al, creating a lens through which everything she says from this point forward is filtered. The pretty girl just smiles, forced to listen, festering inside but suppressing emotion to remain at the table.
What’s worse, if she finds herself powerless in the moment of MANSPLAINING it could go on indefinitely, not only losing her the floor, but opportunity altogether. Often, in fact, if a woman is making a point and then MANSPLAINED her point becomes so invalidated that either whatever the man said will be interpreted as her shared opinion, though often not; OR he synthesizes the point and takes ownership of it. By articulating it in his own words, often plagiarizing and twisting the life out of her original intent, the brilliance of her becomes actualized through the masculine process. Everyone heard him say it first, so it wasn’t really her idea anyway. But who noticed? She did.
In Both situations, the woman’s voice has not been heard.
Now think about this in the context of a woman’s original unique work—NO IDEA is protected. As soon as we express our thoughts we are often criticized for how we present those ideas, then immediately the process of either disqualifying or plagiarizing begins.
At this point there are a mirid of angles women take to keep the floor and ownership of her ideas. Like the mansplaining scenarios we started with, many of these attempts quickly turn to defeat, deflating her either not allowing her vision to be fully articulated and developed at all or standard process of Business in a Man’s World takes over to execute the concept for the highest monetary gain.
As women, we put on the pants to play in the man’s world. In all of these cases the only strategy to overcome the Mansplaining is to be 10 steps ahead with a plan to procure the masculine driven outcome: cash on the bottom line-profits. Many women who have succeeded in climbing the corporate ladder have done it by taking on masculine process – x+y=z
What is often missing from this linear equation is the feminine intuition that caused us to be passionate about our idea in the first place. It’s not that, women don’t see the value proposition as “profitable”; it’s that we allocate our resources towards that profitability attached to the process and impact that our actions upon execution will have on the PEOPLE, community, ENVIRONMENT. The True Cost.
The Feminine way is to nurture not deplete resources. Since we often have had to frugally allocate very limited means to survive, as we translate our ideas to do good in the world and be profitable, we learn to synthesize the masculine tactics of business as usual to establish our plan. In order for us to manifest our desired outcome, we have to fit it into the system.
What becomes the RUB in this process is that as women take on these masculine characteristics to succeed, they often shut down and disqualify other women for their more feminine approach, thus perpetuating the cycle. I had a good giggle recently when I vented one such experience to my 14 year old son, he exclaimed, “you got WO-MAN–Splained!”
Yep, it’s a thing. Womansplaining is not something women do to men, but actually to other women. It’s a sort of a ranking thing. As women climb the corporate ladder, collecting masculine traits along the way, the quick act of interrupting and talking over women lower on the ladder, is how they elevate their own status and position.
The thing is with these things: It’s all really just an illusion we’ve established as a society to hold power over each other. So if it’s not real, than it must be in our collective power to change it, right?
There is a rising of divine feminine leadership that needs to occur in order for us to collectively have a positive impact on the health of our ecosystem so that we as a species can continue to exist. This is not optional for us as humans to choose whether or not we would like to “save the planet”. It is essential to our existence. Together we have the ability to nurture the soil and mindfully act in ways that lessen our waste of precious resources rather than selfish depletion.
Identifying the problem is only the beginning. In order to rebuild our broken communities more sustainably we must find ways to fully listen to the women that are called with vision to lead. Leadership is meant to grow exponentially towards progress. If that leadership guides sustainable action, the more leaders the better in the journey of empowering mainstream alignment of action towards healing our planet.
So, why in this linear system, that forces suppression, is the competitive need to compare ourselves to others at all justified? It’s not! The value of leaders that are rising up out of nothing or even failure should be heard fully and given an opportunity to articulate fully their passion. It’s time for meaningful minimizing to maximize how we live. It’s time for us to engage with our local communities collectively stimulating each other to thrive.
It all starts with being seen and heard. Women’s equality is evolved to be an idea outdated. A mango is not equal to a pineapple, you need them both in harmony to have a fruit salad. Equality of Pay, now that is just straight up RESPECT. It’s time that a woman’s value is not a lesser percentage than a man.
How work is even valued as a $/hour is mind boggling. Can’t we give people more purposeful ways to contribute that dissolves the need for such suppressive systems? Together as women lead, solutions towards progress will emerge but we must break down the communication barriers for a systematic evolution to happen. Shrink your CO2 footprint by localizing. Go ride your bike.
Let’s take a look at the economic system of hourly wage and salaries as a hierarchy of power. In the man’s world—time is money.
If you are a part of the labor force your hourly wage is established as the lowest denominator for experience + difficulty of work/what fits into the budget. As we move up into the salary positions both blue and white collar jobs start calculated off of this same method at 40 hours a week X 52 weeks a year with bonuses and holiday time added based on social standards. But the competitive environment in these systems often creates an expectation to work more than 40 hours to earn notice and advancement.
Not only do these above and beyond social expectations degrade the value of one’s time, it creates an even steeper barrier for women to grow in their work and advancement of career as a woman’s time beyond the 40 hours is loaded with nurturing responsibilities and obligatory roles that often go completely unnoticed. She could be twice as productive in her 40 hour time commitment to the work but her career advancement will recall the minutes she needed to take to handle personal affairs. Since this alone creates a lot of barriers for women. Many women are forced to chose family over career shutting them out of reaching their growth potential. Or if she chooses career first, she may spend valuable mind space justifying it to herself (and others) or worse hiding these obligations from her coworkers for fear of being passed over due to their presence. No wonder we live in an exhausted, burnt out society! This system not only propagates the exclusion of women in leadership, it also is exasperating any opportunity for collaborative efficiency.
Clearly, I am not going to inspire an overnight shift in a broken system that has evolved over hundreds of male dominated years of business. Nor do I have a concrete strategy to overcome it, BUT I do know this--- Since the beginning of time women have come together supporting each other in the extraordinary task of nurturing our species. Our innate feminine DNA has hardwired us to resourcefully feed and protect in community.
The feminine instinct of leadership is to support each other in a more circular flow. To mentor and assist. To give knowledge and perspective freely to empower more leaders spiraling into an infinite tapestry of sharing that stimulates a collectively strong and healthy community.
It is only with the last century that these systems have dissolved to the competitive linear- masculine model of achieving success. Through this broken lens we see our feminine disposition as a road block to advancement. The many negative social repercussions exaggerate how we see ourselves compared to others through masculine objectified filters.
For us to change these systems, we need bold leadership to make radical shifts in how they qualify hires and structure career expectations. Only once we value the contributions of women as visible and heard will we be able to thrive in systems that adequately acknowledge the connection between our economic progress and our survival as a species. Caring for Mother Earth starts with listening to the feminine leadership within us.