Plunder the Egyptians September 2021

Dr. Tim Foster - 22 September 2021

Women You Should Know

A wonderful blog about a wide range of amazing women from many different times and places. It traverses a broad range of issues and experiences, telling stories that would otherwise be forgotten. I loved ‘Ivory and Bone: Agatha Christie and Her Three Decades of Archaeology’. There is some fun stuff to, including ‘The Princess Narrative, Reinvented: 2021 Calendar Features 12 STEM Royals And The Power (Tools) They Wield To Inspire Girls’ and ‘Gender Pay Gap Video Shows What Life Is Like When Women Get 20% Less… Of Everything’.

‘Research: Women Are Better Leaders During a Crisis’
by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman
Harvard Business Review, Dec 30, 2020

Based on an analysis of 360-degree assessments of 820 leaders conducted in the first three months of the pandemic, this study found that women were rated by those who work with them as more effective. The gap between men and women in the pandemic is even larger than previously measured (see study below), possibly indicating that women tend to perform better in a crisis. A close look at the 13 competencies where women excelled shows that the interpersonal dimensions are, not surprisingly, most critical in crisis.

‘Women and the Labyrinth of Leadership’
by Alice Eagly and Linda L. Carli
Harvard Business Review, Sept 2007

In this flagship article the authors argue that a labyrinth, rather than a ‘glass ceiling’, better describes the challenges facing women in leadership, and is a more useful metaphor for addressing them. A labyrinth conveys the complexity and variety of challenges that can appear along the way. Passage through a labyrinth requires persistence, awareness of one’s progress, and a careful analysis of the puzzles that lie ahead. Vestiges of prejudice against women, issues of leadership style and authenticity, and family responsibilities are just a few of the challenges explored, with some interesting (and alarming) statistics to put them in context. Several ‘remedies’ are proposed to address these challenges.

‘Women at Work: Conversations About Where We’re at and How we Move Forward’

Now in its sixth season with dozens of podcasts, this is a collection of thoughtful, high quality recordings on a wide range of topics. Some top picks are: ‘How Mothers WFH Are Negotiating What’s Normal’ (S6, e2), ‘All the Help We Can Get’ (S6, e1), and ‘Seeing Ourselves as Leaders’ (S4, e10).

‘Why we Have too Few Women Leaders’ (14:40)
TED Talk, Dec 2010

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg looks at why a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions. The video is a compelling statement of a very important issue, offering some concrete steps that begin to address it.

‘How Gender Affects Your Ability to Lead’ (5:46)
by Robin Ely

Even when CEOs make gender diversity a priority—by setting aspirational goals for the proportion of women in leadership roles, insisting on diverse slates of candidates for senior positions, and developing mentoring and training programs—they are often frustrated by a lack of results. That’s because they haven’t addressed the fundamental identity shift involved in coming to see oneself, and to be seen by others, as a leader. Provocative and thought provoking stuff.

Must Read Books
Lead Like a Woman: Gain Confidence, Navigate Obstacles, Empower Others.
Deborah Smith Pegues (Harvest House, 2020)

Strictly speaking Deborah Smith Pegues is a Christian rather than an ‘Egyptian’, but this book is written for the mainstream. Her exploration of how her Christian faith shaped her leadership journey will, however, engage many Christian women. Pegues shows how ‘uniquely’ female qualities can position women for success, and discusses twelve traits that can be developed to promote the creation of a transformative, participative, and inclusive organisation. She also uncovers twelve unproductive thoughts and habits that sabotage success.

Women and Leadership: Real Lives, Real Lessons.
Julia Gillard and Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala (Random House, 2020)

We cannot explore what the Egyptians have to say about women in leadership without mentioning this book. Perhaps because I was listening to it as an audiobook, I found this book a little difficult, but other may find it valuable. The thesis of the book is explained by Okonjo-Iweala who notes that of the eight women interviewed in the book–including Jacinda Ardern and Hillary Clinton–none were told at an early age that there were things they could not do. All eight women were raised without barriers, which led them onto paths of leadership later in their lives. Barriers often arise unconsciously, appearing as stereotypes that inhibit the ambition of women to lead. It is therefore important to instil into boys and young men that they can be actors in terms of making sure that women get their fair share of attention and opportunities. The book offers hope and solutions.

There is also a TED Talk by the authors here:

From the Academy
The Ridley Centre for Leadership is committed to biblically based leadership that is also research-aware. Too often leadership literature is popular, faddish and anecdotal. Here we identify some quality scholarship that informs our theme.

‘Women in the Workplace 2020’

McKinsey & Company undertook this comprehensive study of 600 companies over a five-year period. The report focuses on how the pandemic has affected women at work, including the unique impacts on women of different races and ethnicities, working mothers, women in senior leadership, and women with disabilities. It also tracks the changes we’ve seen in women’s representation over the past six years, and assesses how Covid-19 could disrupt those trends going forward. While there is a strong American bias (for example, it considers the impact of the race riots in the USA last year), there is plenty that is transferrable. Section 1, on the ‘State of the Pipeline’, is especially important as it points to emerging trends. The final section on workplace solutions offers six steps companies can take, and illustrates them from some leading organisations. No surprises here, but the strong research backing lends credibility and impetus to these solutions.

‘A Study in Leadership: Women Do It Better Than Men’
by Zenger Folkman

Folkman researched over 7,000 leaders in 2011 and found that ‘while men excel in the technical and strategic arenas, women clearly have the advantage in the extremely important areas of people relationships and communication. They also surpass their male counterparts in driving for results. This we know is counterintuitive to many men.’ This is an important thesis that deserves serious consideration.