We Need to Value How Women Use Vision and Conceptual Thinking to Lead

Challenging Andocentrism - Recognizing Women's Vision - Photo of Forest Seen Through Glasses

It’s no secret that more women in the workforce has not equaled more women in leadership. Women opt out because they don’t feel their work is meaningful, they object to the direction their institution or institutional culture is headed, or they believe their contributions aren't valued. Countering this requires a systemic approach.

by Rosalind Spigel, Organizational Development Consultant and Leadership Coach, Spigel Consulting 

In this sixth article in our series in Challenging Androcentrism in the Academy, we'll look at one set of leadership traits and behaviors we identified earlier in the series: vision and conceptual thinking. We'll examine:

  1. How women leaders typically exercise these competencies.
  2. How androcentrism and implicit bias limit our ability to recognize these competencies in women leaders in higher education.
  3. How we can take steps to improve this situation - at organizational and team levels, and as individuals.

In preparation for this article, I was fortunate to have interview conversations with many women in higher education. In our conversations about conceptual thinking, I discovered a distinction between "big ideas" and "vision." Big ideas tend to excite. Vision can also excite, but for the women I spoke with, vision also includes more mundane aspects of operationalization which then receive less than enthusiastic responses from their male bosses. I would like to add that there were women I spoke with who did not perceive themselves or others being marginalized for their conceptual thinking. Nonetheless, if an institution is interested in higher levels of creativity and improved outcomes, it’s important to give voice to the different ways people see.

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