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Barbie Does Diversity Part 2

Barbie Does Diversity Part 2

Post Series: Barbie Does Diversity

The business environment we live and work in is decidedly male. Why is that?

Part 2 in a Series

Back in the 1940’s women pulled our countries through the war while the men went off to fight.  And when the men returned, businesses in the US and Canada were re-built under what I call a “male-centric paradigm”:

paradigm is a perception or a group of ideas about how things should be done, made, or thought about. In other words, it’s your perspective on the world, your point of view, or your beliefs about what’s true.

Business Environment Today

The business environment we now currently live and work in is decidedly male:  it is patterned after a male of way of thinking and acting; hierarchal, making accomplishing and winning the first line of action, with bottom line thinking and a fix it attitude   This isn’t wrong; this approach to business has worked quite well for many years.  But it’s now outdated.  It’s outdated because it no longer works for the entire population of both men and women.   The male approach has been what’s fueling business and women typically don’t use that approach.  For society to function and grow, women need to have babies and take care of families.  This means they can’t work long hours.  Also, women are intuitive, sensitive to emotions and conciliatory.  This has been interpreted by men as being at odds with pragmatism and the ability to make tough decisions.  As much as men may say they are for women advancing and having equal opportunities the mindset which brings about the unconscious bias inherent in the business world does not allow it.

The Journey

When I began my career in the business world I quickly realized this.  With 4 years of sales experience in the beer industry, I tried to secure a position in a larger organization.  But there I was told I had to start by being a secretary and move my way up.  As an aside, no man I ever met had to start off as a secretary and move up to a sales position.  But back then, the women applicants did.  After fighting my way straight to the sales desk I was still relegated to the task of taking letters for the president and getting him coffee.  No other sales rep had to do that.  it was a classic example of the mindset of the male paradigm: Women exist in business to support their male counterparts. 

Now, in my role as a coach for executive women, what I constantly hear other women say is that they are having to pull more than their own weight, do jobs the men won’t do and save their colleagues to make them look good.  Just like years ago with the Barbie comment, we women are continuing to put ourselves in the same box as the men put us in business.

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.  Next time, I’ll explore what that means for woman and their careers in the male-centric business



  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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