Posted by: rachelchung14cnu | September 8, 2016

Different But Equal

Generally the word different, at least in my mind, does not usually connotate a positive feeling. Personally this word instead evokes a sense of inequality at its core. In the readings and discussions in the class so far there has been a lot of emphasis on the differences between the way men and women lead. These differences are usually seen as a cause for tension and inequality. But I believe that the way men and women were created serves a purpose even within their gender differences. These apparent gender differences are not things to disregard or judge against. According to Eagly and Carli in Through the Labyrinth¬†“Even in societies in which gender boundaries are more fluid, the first women to occupy powerful political roles sometimes have projected a masculine or androgynous identity” (p. 92). Yet even in gender fluid societies there is this underlying view that women need to be like men in order to be taken seriously as leaders. There is this underlying sense to be more masculine in order to be a respected leader as woman. By accepting this idea we as women are then succumbing to the idea that masculinity is the way of leadership. A woman can be strong on her own as a woman and as a leader.

But I believe there are things to be learned from both genders as leaders. There are some things according to research that come more naturally to men and women. According to research found in Kezar’s article women are generally more emotionally aware and relational beings. While men are perceived to be more inclined to be task oriented and autocratic. The differences brought to the table by both genders seem to be conflicting but ideally if both were combined together there would actually be harmony. Men and women can learn from the differences of each other. If we start to recognize and accept the need for the differences in both genders then maybe there could even come to a point where we can stop gendering words. Because by accepting differences this can lead to more openness and acceptance without having to bend to judgment or public scrutiny because one is not living up to the words placed on his or her gender.

As women we should not have to strive towards imitating the leadership of men in order to be seen as serious leaders. This does not mean we disregard the positive characteristics of leadership that men may generally more naturally possess. There is something to learn from both genders. From personal experience I have learned that women are just as capable as men to be bold and assertive but yet not losing the femininity as who they are as women, which I am still trying to discover. There was an event where a few friends and I were at the beach. We were all enjoying ourselves and the company of each other until we looked across the street to see that there was a violent bar fight happening right in front of our eyes. Unexpectedly the first person to go over there to break up the fight was not any of the guys I was with but a woman. Honestly I was surprised that none of my guy friends were the ones breaking up the fight because of these social constructs of gender that were running through my mind. That night my ideas on what a woman can do went beyond what I had ever thought. The word bold and assertive should not only belong to men and neither should the words selfless and relational belong to women. Both are different yet both should come together in order to loosen ourselves of these gender expectations that we as a society have on each other.

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Responses

  1. Everyone seeks leadership roles in different contexts in which they thrive or perceive to fit into well. This could be a very important information for people looking for leadership positions, because not everyone can excel in a situation. This could be the event that you experienced where someones’ assertiveness and boldness were enhanced by the climate or the decision that was made. Breaking up a fight can often be a difficult decision considering tempers are already flaring and as “diffuser”/ leader you are attempting to provide a solution that decreases the damage that can be done which is a tough role to step into and many would leave it to another. High risk scenarios in which leadership is required are difficult shoes to fill considering the consequences for a wrong decision often cause physical damage. In these roles that need filling men or women can easily be the leader, but more often a specific context needs to be satisfied first.

  2. I do not see “different” as bad but rather as different! It means two things are differing. Men and women are separate, different creatures. We were made that way intentionally in order to complement each other. I agree that the sooner we embrace these qualities then the sooner we can plan and work together more successfully.

  3. I completely agree Rachel! Sometimes I feel like we end up talking in circles about female traits and our place in society and how women should be fighting to get to an equal standing with men. But I don’t feel like that’s the way we should be going about it. Men and women are different, we are created differently at our cores, we serve different purposes, we are made to balance each other out and to work together to accomplish things. This doesn’t mean there’s any specific pattern that either men or women need to follow in order to accomplish their goals. But we do things differently and that is a strength and can be so so good if we use it to our advantage. But if we treat gender equality like some kind of race to see who can get to the finish line first, we can’t ever hope to work together and see the potential it would have.

  4. Rachel, I completely agree with you. I personally think the differences between males and females are really valuable. I think that being different from one another is something that should be celebrated because differences are often so beautiful. I feel like there is this idea that it is impossible for a woman to be bold and gutsy while also still maintaining her femininity and this just is not true. Obviously though, this will differ depending on each individuals personality (I do not think these qualities are just not distributed based on gender oftentimes, but rather personality). Recognizing the good things about each gender, in light of their differences, I think would bring about a healthier mentality towards gender differences.

  5. I forget which reading it was, but in one of the ones we just did for class today, it was talking about how around the 1960s when women were greatly striving for equality, they were striving for “the eradication of differences.” I read that and thought that that was unnecessary because I don’t think that women and men should be exactly alike. As you said, women and men do act differently and I think that helps bring different perspectives especially in leadership roles. It’s important to have both masculine and feminine qualities in leadership roles so that different viewpoints and new ideas can be shared.


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