Asking the Jamaican Woman: “Why are women running from leadership?”
I had earlier this year made this post on my Facebook wall as my status “Why are women running from leadership??? And as soon as I nominate them they’re like no let the guy lead. It triggered quite a stir as both women and men responded with their point of view. As far I see if women are doing the work every day in the home at school, at work and other areas of society they should get the title and compensation that comes along with it. In my response to those who engage my post, I had made it known that when I try to get them into the post to gain the title and recognition along with the work they already doing the shy away. Now the response was and I quote “: I am laughing lest I cry. In the spirit of enlightened feminist teachings for all young male role models like you, I will advise that women may (only may mind you) tend to view as re-packaged and sanitised patriarchy, your attempts to “nominate” them for posts in which you think they may be interested!” In parts, I must confess as a young male writing this article that if this is the thinking behind a nomination of a woman to a post by her male counterpart it hurts to think that someone would view your nomination as a sanitized, repackaged patriarchy, especially coming from persons who you would have worked closely with to have known their skills. This kind of stance or thinking, whether in theory as it is now or in actuality, would not help the empowerment of women and girls. This especially so if the nomination is coming from a place of good will and not a place of tokenism. I would be likening onto a friend betraying your confidence in them which is what this is. I think having mentioned this; the work that needs to be done with Caribbean women and girls is to provide them with space find their voice and confidence.
I recently had a request give my thoughts from a colleague to give my thoughts on a programme for women and girls around the whole self-confidence issue. I asked her from whom will they be learning this self-confidence? I mentioned to her that it has to be from women who have already found that self-confidence and voice as well as men who have been in a leadership capacity. I felt that it is important to include both genders in the teaching process because an isolated incubation programme for these women and girls to learn is not a true representation of the society as they will have to deal with both genders in the real world. I have had the experience of nominating a female for different upper and lower level female candidates for a position of leadership I know they have the skills, the interest and expertise to hold office but often times gave excuses to say ‘I’m not ready’. Often times after the post is handed to a male, the organisation is criticised for not including more females in upper-level management. Now, I cannot be a part of an organisation that will force a woman into a position in which she does wish to serve but one cannot then allow for the chastisement of the organisation for choosing from the pool of candidates that are left. Of course in some of the gender conversations, I have had over the last year. I mentioned the case of an organisation I was a part of where a young lady was being nominated for the post of the president did not have enough confidence in her capacity to lead. I remembered her asking “Do you truly see me as President?” as she was about to decline the candidacy. Both of the males who nominated her (I was one of them) told her if we did not see you as capable we wouldn’t have nominated. Her response was Adrian if I didn’t know you as a blunt person I would not have believed. She then accepted the candidacy, won and made an excellent President. Whilst outside reassurance is nice to have a confident woman stepping into her own voice and strength willEven though all she had the overwhelming support she still questioned her ability even though she had the skills and capacity. After much encouragement, she became the organisation’s president, did an excellent job for the term she had. At the end of her tenure, she mentioned she didn’t realise she had that much support. I have also often heard that men are more likely to apply for the job or send in their nominations for a post than women would even if they are not fully qualified. Some of the underlining realisations I have come to is that there is a self-confidence issue when it comes to leadership.
Now, being from a country with one of the countries with the highest number of female managers, Jamaica boasts a sixty (60%) percent ratio of female managers. One would ask why to ask the question. Well, you see whilst we have that many women as managers it is still said that we do not have a lot of females in higher level management as a complaint about inclusion. I believe that there is more to this story. I have always heard my female friends point to other women as the reason for them not taking up leadership opportunities as women tend not to want to support female leaders. Now, I am not sure if there has been any investigation or research on this matter but if this is true there needs to be an intervention on the importance of women building women. Yes sure as I stated above that it is important to incorporate men in the building of women but the path to self-empowerment also starts from the persons own initiative in part.
By Adrian Watson