First there was the #metoo movement. It began with women sharing their fears, stories and finding strength in each other. Today it has men too sharing their stories. Gender is fast becoming a blurred line, it is more about choice and what you want to identify yourself as. But at the workplace, the numbers are different. In the corporate world,
A vast majority of Fortune 500 companies’ CEOs are men, and Fortune estimated that women received just 2.2 percent of last year’s venture capital funds. But, despite the numbers, there are plenty of reasons why growing companies should actively seek female leadership — and also why women should take the plunge to start a business.
Seeking a clear role model for the modern “woman” of today, one should look no further than Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel. It’s easy to describe Merkel as the supreme eradicator of gender stereotypes. She has succeeded in showing that growing up in East Germany is no obstacle to entering West German-dominated politics, and has shown that being a Protestant does not stop you from leading the predominantly Catholic Christian Democratic Union.
Funnily enough, her personal brand has nothing to do with being a woman. If anything, it rejects such characteristics and constraints that accompany them. She has been able to be judged less against gender stereotypes. Merkel told the world: look at me: Not a woman. Not a historic achievement. A leader to be measured as you would any other.
She is a social democrat who led a much more conservative party for all intents and purposes. A leader who rose and remained at the top of her country’s male-dominated leadership. A person who runs Europe’s largest economy and still wants to go shopping for her own grocery.
Too often the skill of women is weighed against those of their male counterparts. It’s a profoundly faulty metric. For one, men’s historically valued qualities are just a portion of the skills needed to succeed in today’s complex and diverse setting. Call her remarkable ability to listen and recognise deeper concerns and problems in the case of Merkel.
White House colleagues who worked with her talked about how she was the strongest state head they’ve ever met. It is possible to make a cogent argument that she leads by example. The unmitigated degree of gender equality can serve as an example for this movement’s progression of what comes next.
The world is still struggling with how even fundamental rights can be guaranteed. Protection from assault, access to education, equal pay. Nonetheless, Merkel could give us a glimpse of a future in which gender transcendence is the rule, not just the exception. She makes us visualise a time where women don’t even have to prove themselves until they hit the starting blocks.
Comparisons will be made with other high-ranking women. Yes, Margaret Thatcher was as transcendent. But, following her own personal accomplishments, the Iron Lady did not initiate a surge of female heads of state immediately. Maybe at the time the social winds were still too strong. Instead of creating a new standard, she was seen as the exception.
These people who’ve made it as “persons” rather than as a symbol of their gender should serve to remind us of what’s possible and can possibly happen someday.
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