Ms. Josephine Green: It’s Time to Change – Really, Deeply, Truly

Access and Inclusion February 19, 2014

Josephine Green specializes in social foresight, innovation and change and is former Senior Director of Trends and Strategy at Philips Design, Philips, The Netherlands. Ms. Green participated in the WISE 2011 Debate on Developing New Approaches to Leadership.  

As part of its month-long focus on girls and women, WISE invited Ms. Green to write a guest blog on gender, education and new models of leadership for the future. 

Drinking coffee and looking through my morning paper, I read this statement quoting a leader in Afghanistan ‘men are fundamental and women are secondary’. Now this was not a good way to start my day! I tried to dismiss it reassuring myself that we (some women) have come a long way from this, but a little voice kept popping up saying, maybe, but we still have a long way to go. And my morning coffee didn’t get any better. I went on to read about the phone hacking scandal and corruption in high places in the UK and that in the USA 1% of the population owns 20% of the wealth. By now I had subjectively re-interpreted the quote as ‘men are fundamental (to the mess we are in) and women are secondary’. This made me feel better and got me thinking. It got me thinking about what this means for the implicit mindset, rules and language that, through our education system, shape our next generations. At a deep level, do young people actually have the possibility of thinking and behaving differently, beyond any hierarchy of fundamental and secondary? But to even begin a discussion on this we need to dig deep into our worldview, into the film that is constantly and silently running though our heads. And here’s the problem.. 

We live under a worldview that was created by and for men. This means that the way we  see and experience the world reflects their values, their behaviors and their organizational structures. In brief, we live in a man-friendly world, and, worse still, one that is friendly to a particular type of man, the dominant alpha male of our species. Hence, competition, materialism, individualism, control, winners and losers, and even wars, are put forward as drivers of ‘progress’. Hierarchical, top down command and control organizations reinforce this testosterone fueled view of the world. 

So ladies do we feel comfortable with this? Did we and do we play the game? Were we and are we successful? Was and is the game worth playing? As things stand now, probably not…

Read the full guest blog here