Yesterday we had a get-together of women ministers from the Cape of Good Hope district. It was a casual after-another-meeting affair and apparently most people forgot that it was planned. I don't mind supporting other women in ministry, but generally it is not a priority for me and I suspect that any ambitions that I may have are thwarted by my lack of ability and not by my gender. Not that I am feeling particularly thwarted!
The thing is that we talk about the need to get more women in leadership and vaguely (or passionately, depending on personality) express concern, but never seem to get to grips with why there are not more women in leadership. Specifically we were mentioning women ministers in church structures.
For me, it is no mystery. I have no desire to be part of this leadership and perhaps others feel the same way. Graeme Codrington writes this in an article called Why women are a problem for business:
One of the main reasons that women are not making it into senior
leadership positions is because they don't want to. It's not a
capability issue; it's a choice. And the reason they're choosing not to
is because they don't want to play a man's game in a man's world.
And that is simply it. I can't engage in high-level church leadership easily because I don't have a sufficiently aggressive or ambitious personality. I achieve things in other ways. I don't enjoy scrambling to make myself heard or to be taken seriously. I don't know if that is because I am a woman or not and so perhaps we are not even beginning to ask the right questions. Do we perhaps just need people in leadership to have different qualities?
Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic writes the following in a Harvard Business Review blog called Why Do So Many Incompetent Men Become Leaders?
In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our
inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is, because
we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a
sign of competence, we are fooled into believing that men are better
leaders than women. In other words, when it comes to leadership, the
only advantage that men have over women (e.g., from Argentina to Norway
and the USA to Japan) is the fact that manifestations of hubris — often masked as charisma or charm — are commonly mistaken for leadership potential, and that these occur much more frequently in men than in women. [hyperlinks removed]
I don't think we are going to get more women into leadership by continuing to do things in the same old way and expecting women to fit in. We need new ways that somehow combine the strengths of men and women - and also the strengths of more introverted personalities and more extroverted personalities.
Let's stop asking how to get women involved, but rather ask how we can change the processes so that women are able to participate without compromising their natural personalities.