I’m hopeful, dear readers, that we can have a bit more of a dialogue this week. I need to learn something, and I particularly need the wisdom of the men in the audience.
One of the undeniable joys of spending last week on the road at the American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress is the time I got to spend with surgeon-friends from many places and at varied career stages. Yes, there was learning and thinking and organizational work, but at the end of the day the connection is (as ever) what means the most to me as I reflect. I came home so thrilled to know more about the work that my friends are doing, and feeling supported in my own.
As one would expect if I’m spending time with varied surgeon friends, it also means that I got to spend time with some phenomenal surgeons/ scholars/ leaders who happen to be women. As one would expect, plenty of stories get shared. As a qualitative researcher, I’m always looking for themes in stories, and last week was no exception.
What I heard was quite a few amazing, talented, accomplished women with tales of leadership roles deferred or denied, with the standard rationale of, “It’s not your time” or “We need to give Brad* a chance.”
This is where I need the crowdsourcing help, because I only know the female experience of many of my colleagues and myself. I feel like in the last year I’ve heard more and more of this sort of deferral or denial. Is “It’s not your time” code for implicit or explicit bias that keeps women out of leadership roles they have legitimately earned? Or is this a reflection of generational shift, and is something that’s being used to keep men and women who might buck the status quo a bit out of roles that, again, they have legitimately earned?
If this is simply reflective of old institutions dying with a long exhale, we need to address it. We need the best leaders in the most crucial roles, and we don’t need to wait for that.
If this is truly a “new” form of gender bias, it’s even more imperative that we address it. Nothing will change unless we do, and, again, we don’t need to wait.
Help me learn, readers- is this gender or generation bias at play?
*”Brad” is simply the standard guy, and is usually the standard white guy who doesn’t upset the apple cart. My apologies to any Brads out there because I do, in fact, know that some of you are amazing people and leaders who do think beyond tradition.