Posted by: livhaugen | October 27, 2016

Buddy Up

I was reading an article about women in the White House and how they work together in order to try and better have their voices heard. In the article they do what they call “amplification.” This is when one woman makes a key point in a meeting and another woman will repeat it. They use this strategy for 2 main reasons. The first is so that the idea will not be ignored, and the second is so no one else claims the idea as their own. We have talked about how women leaders are heard differently in meetings and in the workplace, and how many times they feel ignored and over shadowed because they are a woman. I thought this strategy was interesting because of how they created somewhat of a buddy system to try and combat this issue.

It seems to me that woman have 2 main choices when it comes to combatting the inequality in the workplace. They can either actively support one another, or they can do nothing. Which may seem harsh, but it seems like if women aren’t supporting it each other regularly, then they are undermining them/leaving them out on the line alone to combat something that is usually much bigger than one person. Women who choose to support one another have a tricky job of navigating what that looks like, and how to be most effective. One main obstacle that comes to my mind, is trying to not create a women vs. men culture.  I think that this example mentioned above of amplification is a good and seemingly effective tactic. Seemingly effective because in the article the women said that now Obama chooses women more often in meetings to hear their opinions then he did before. For one, it is solely focused on the woman at hand. It is supporting her idea by repeating it, it is not tearing down another’s idea. It is also subtle, the one who is repeating the idea isn’t premising it first with a, “you guys will probably ignore her idea so here it is again.” Though thats exactly what’s happening, they are being smart about navigating the offensively obvious while still standing up for each other. Additionally, it is creating bonds and unification amongst women leaders, which I assume feels empowering.

Though women in powerful and influential positions are important for society’s growth, it’s likewise important that once they are there, they are heard and taken seriously. That their ideas are authentically listened to, just how everyone deserves. So, women should buddy up, support one another, encourage one another, don’t use their influence to put one another down or belittle them because it is beneficial for everyone to break down these inequalities in leadership.

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Responses

  1. I really like your take on this! Women buddying up has the possibility to create an amazing environment of trust and better communication. It is scary to go to life alone, whether that’s in a business sense or a social sense. I think having someone to back up your ideas and give you the credit for your contributions is very important. For me personally I think it’s really hard to be in a situation where it’s cut throat, be successful or get out. If you’re not one to like confrontation or be the loudest in the room it can be even more scary to try and speak up to have your voice heard. I think having that support system is important and I know personally I have always felt more successful and confident when I know I have someone in my corner rooting for me and cheering me on. Teamwork makes the dream work!

  2. I also saw this article and thought it was really interesting! (I actually planned on writing my blog about it.. there goes that plan!) 🙂 I like the tempered radical approach that these women are taking. They are making a change to something that is undeniably a problem, but like you said, they are not doing it in an aggressive way, or rocking the boat. They are simply doing a small thing to combat an illusive problem.

  3. I agree with this idea. A buddy system is something were taught to do from an early age. The idea that women should support each other and reiterate their points is a good way to promote women helping other women. I do not believe that this strategy would cause a female vs male environment especially not in the work place. Women supporting one another does not necessarily mean anti-men. It is important for women to take on this tempered radical approach, as Casey suggested, because it is something not far outside of the normal and it will encourage women to support each other’s ideas. The men in said company will see that women’s ideas are valid if more than one woman is suggesting it, and they will see that other women support and believe that these ideas are important and valid. Therefore, promoting the idea in men’s minds that women are competent and that other women can validate this idea.

  4. This is such an important and interesting idea and I love that it’s being put into practice in the White House, of all places, where arguably some of the most important decisions in our country (and in the world) are being made. It’s one thing for women to be hired and put in leadership positions, it’s another thing entirely for their opinions to be voiced and actually heard. Having women in organizations just for the sake of appearances does nothing. There need to actually be women making decisions and contributing to the bigger picture. Having a buddy system is a great step in the right direction for allowing this to actually occur.

  5. I really enjoyed reading your post. I definitely agree that it is extremely important for women to join together. Since women often represent minorities in the workplace, using such strategies like amplification become important. Many scholars advocate the importance of female support through mentorship, educational programs, and conferences that provide women with an open space to talk and practice leadership. As Wilson (2007) advocates, women are better in numbers. We need to get behind women we trust and support (p. 74). Such opportunities help alleviate the stress and pressure many women feel in order to succeed. It is calming to know that you have a strong support system to fall back on if something goes wrong.

    Communication is a great way to offer support for other women. Even through simple communication practices, like amplification, we can start creating a ripple effect in the workplace. Hopefully, men will begin to see the quality behind women’s ideas and begin to pay more attention to them in meetings. These small steps toward change falls in line with the idea of a tempered radical. These women are slowly and subtly changing social practices without creating a huge uproar. This is truthfully the best way to achieve change in any workplace through peaceful practices (Meyerson, 2001). Practices like these are important for women leaders to remember and continue.

    Meyerson, D. E. (2001). Radical change, the quiet way. Harvard Business Review, 92-100.
    Wilson, M. C. (2007). Closing the leadership gap: Add women, change everything. New York City, NY: Penguin Group.

    -Allison

  6. I completely agree! Passivity is still an action- it is an action that is largely detrimental to progress and effectiveness. Women should bond together and support one another in an active way. There should be healthy competition in the workplace but there should also be a strong community of support and encouragement, especially amongst women. The political world is especially cut-throat and it takes perseverance, ambition, dedication, and competence (hopefully) to make it to the White House. I find it sad that the women have to form these strategic coalitions in order to be heard, but I am glad that there is at least an effective tactic to use to combat the male dominance. There need to be more tools that women can use to be effective, but until there are precise, exact tools to use, why not lean in to one another?

  7. I think that is a great strategy! They are creating small and gradual change that is not only unifying the women but also allowing them to be heard. I like how they are using a tactic that doesn’t discriminate or cause conflict with men. It is also interesting that this strategy is being used in this type of setting/environment because women are almost always overlooked or ignored in these type of positions.

  8. This is a great idea!
    I love that kind of system and I think it will be useful not just to women but the minority in general. Whether your gender or race is the minority or your opinion. This is a common example of women being creative and it not being exclusive to just women. There is always safety (and power) in numbers. This is the perfect way to ensure that a voice is heard. It is also a polite and non-aggressive form to communicate, which can make the idea or topic more receptive. Since it is just being re-stated others in the room, will not feel like someone it taking over the conversation or such.

  9. I love this! I think when we talk about women in high positions of power, we also talk about how these women feel alone or as if they have no allies in their workplace. I love this idea because it provides a network of support that is crucial to ensuring the success of a woman in a leadership role. I think this will cause others in the environment to take notice and it will subtly remind them that this idea came from a woman (tempered radicalism?).

  10. I feel that it’s always important for women to support one another. But I also think we need to be cautious about it. Because if it’s the type of support that comes across as some type of exclusive coalition, one where women are the good guys and men are the bad guys, then we’re stepping into the problem of stereotypical feminists “man hating”. Of course women should support each other, but men should be there supporting women too and vice versa. The more barriers are built up and the sexes are considered separate, the harder it will ever be to achieve true equality and true mutual respect.

  11. This is really smart and practical way for women to be heard. I love it! I think that often, even if we agree with something someone says, we don’t verbally affirm or agree (even when we should).This is a great idea and I will definitely plan on using it for the future. I do think it is important to use discernment when “buddying up” though. Like you mentioned, it is easy to slip into the man vs woman mentality and in situations like these, the woman’s idea should only be affirmed and repeated if it is a truly good idea. If one woman suggest a bad idea, I don’t think the other woman should support it (Obviously, shouldn’t just support it because a woman said it). Great idea though! 🙂


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