Making Women Leaders Visible: Changing the Narrative

We have new opportunities today to recognize women’s contributions in the larger world– uncovering the often hidden role we’ve played historically– in politics, in organizations, in art, in literature…

The great novelist Mary Anne Evans wrote under the pseudonym, George Eliot. She said she used a male pseudonym for her fiction so her work would be taken more seriously. I often wonder about the gender of all those other writers and artists whose work appears as “anon” or unknown in literary anthologies and galleries-how many are women?

And then I ponder the story of Joan of Arc, who led armies because she claimed God (the most powerful male figure) had commanded her to do so. Still, there was a backlash despite her success in battle. They decided to call her a witch instead of a leader and burned her at the stake.

When Dr. King was asked what “his people” would do without him he answered “this is a movement.” We understand now how that

movement was fueled on the ground by women leading from the pew.

I’ve spent my career encouraging corporations to recognize the leadership of women. Yet change has come so slowly, as women enter the workforce as over 50% of the talent but then fail to advance. They are perceived as great managers but as “lacking the stuff” of leadership. I take joy in watching women leaders courageously shift these perceptions. How do we gain the trust that we are fit for leadership? It starts with trusting ourselves, that “yes, we are leaders” and have demonstrated this throughout history. I’m thrilled to see more women CEO’s– a very new development. We are, woman by woman, changing the narrative. Making our leadership — our contribution throughout history– at last visible.

As we welcome Women’s History Month, leave a comment here with examples of women’s leadership– in private or public.


Let’s keep the conversation going…

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