May 18, 2016

No one identifies a favorite writer as “my favorite left-handed writer…”

Last week I was a guest at a college Leadership Forum. The forum was part of a yearlong program headed by the college’s president. After attending the last meeting of the series, I had wished that I had been at all of them. The subject was fascinating and the students were brilliant. On this last day, each of the students gave a 10-minute presentation on a favorite leader, varying from historical warriors to modern day poets. The students selected the heroes they presented on, and their explanations were varied and interesting. However, there was one thing that troubled me. Each of the men in the class identified their selection as a powerful or strong leader. Although, each of the women in the class identified their chosen leader as a “powerful woman.” There is certainly nothing wrong with being powerful, and most certainly nothing wrong with being a woman –– actually, it’s not even surprising that each of the women picked a woman. The disappointing part is that we still live in a society and a time where identifying the gender is considered important. I am very much looking forward to a time where in a class like this, the women are just as likely to pick a man as their favorite leader as the men are to pick a woman. More importantly, I wish that gender would have nothing to do with the selection process. In talking to a friend about this this morning, I equated it to writers. No one identifies a favorite writer as “my favorite left-handed writer,” or “my favorite right-handed writer,” but simply as “my favorite writer.” Obviously, this is because it doesn’t matter which hand they write with, but rather, what they write. I look forward to the day when it doesn’t matter which gender is leading, but rather the quality of the leadership. Just having so many “powerful women” to choose from today is a strong step in the right direction. We just need to take a few more steps, just a few more.