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Barbie Does Diversity Part 3

Barbie Does Diversity Part 3

Post Series: Barbie Does Diversity

If successful men are task-focused and fact-based, why is being a connected and interdependent woman bad?

Part 3 in a Series

Gender experts say that men are detached and independent and they state their opinion, they speak in a directive manner.  They grow through challenge, are task focused and fact based.  It is said that women are connected and interdependent and they encourage the opinions of others and speak in a collaborative manner.  They grow through encouragement, are relationship focused and intuition based.

So why is the first set of strengths better for business than the second?   Obviously one set is not better or worse for business—it’s just that we have unconsciously agreed to and accepted the first set and those strengths are the ones we have come to identify with as being successful in business.  They are the same as the male paradigm, they define the modern business mind. 

The Old Paradigm

In the male or business paradigm these female strengths are perceived as weakness.  The business world doesn’t value intuition, a collaborative way of speaking, or long discussions to gain buy-in.  It doesn’t value emotions or heart-centered approaches.  Instead, women who exhibit these appear as though they don’t know the answer, are flaky, and unprepared. Women who come from a heart-centered point of view are judged as being too emotional and attached to make the hard decisions.  

So asking women to throw their hat in the ring, toot their own horn, fight for promotions, and grab a front row seat at the table is asking a woman to be different from who they naturally are and instead do things the male way.  This is the male paradigm being asserted.  Women are being asked to approach situation in less natural but more accepted way in order to be seen and valued in business.  And it’s not working.  Think of how much energy it takes to try to be someone you aren’t, to be inauthentic every day in order to be successful.  And then when women leave the office and go home, they are expected to switch gears from being like a man to being a woman who takes care of children, the house, and their men too?  It’s untenable which is why I’m unmasking Barbie.

The Change

It’s time to pull everyone out of the unconscious and into being conscious.  This doesn’t mean we have to replace the male paradigm entirely.  But we do need to be open to incorporating, accepting, and harnessing the female paradigm as an equally viable business approach that leads to even greater success than we’re currently experiencing.   And the stats are clear that greater success is ahead of us when we do this: 

Companies with 50% women in senior operating roles show 19% HIGHER return on equity (ROE) on average.

 In another study done by Catalyst of fortune 500 companies, those companies with the most women directors compared to the companies with the least women directors had 26% higher return on invested capital and 16% higher return on sales.  (Catalyst, The bottom Line:  Corporate performance and women’s representation on boards)

 Underneath it all, all us woman have a Barbie inside, or at least a version.  By this I mean that we all believe that in some places in our lives we must act in a particular way to be successful, to be seen, heard or valued.  We all put on a mask in some way as to not be stereotyped, or even to just survive and not lose our jobs let alone advance. Ladies, are we ready to challenge the Barbie that is inside each of us.

It’s time to unmask our Barbie.  I’ll take up that task in my next article.



  1. Why The Paradigm Shift In Management Is So Difficult by Steve Denning
  2. fromParadigms: The Business of Discovering the Future, by Joel Arthur Barker, William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1992.
  3. Gallop Poll, Women lead men on key workplace engagement measures)
  4. (Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies)
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