Sangita Kasturi: What if it were widely known that even in the 40s, 50s and 60s, there were brilliant female scientists who shaped the course of scientific inquiry as we know it today? What if we knew that even decades ago, women were making enough headway in the sciences to win Nobel prizes? Would it change the way we think of women’s natural ability to excel in the sciences?
Rewrite the Mythology
One of the biggest hurdles facing organizations today, is the inability to recognize qualities of leadership, innovation and risk taking in women, particularly in the STEM fields. We tend to disregard women’s voices because we have told ourselves stories: women are not as good in math and science as boys are; women are too emotional; women are… and the myths go on and on. They even inform the dismal rates at which we promote women into key leadership positions.
In fact, our cultural mythology is so gendered, that when presented with identical resumes’ – one bearing a man’s name and one a women’s name – evaluators assess the man as being more qualified even though the resumes are one and the same! Often, it is not that women don’t have the qualities, education,skills or experience for the top seats in organizations, but that we refuse to see them through the glare of this mythology.
Change the Narrative
Let’s rewrite the narrative of what it means to be a woman. Let’s start by telling the stories that present women in a different light – as the pioneers, leaders, inventors and adventurers that they are.
What impact would we make on young girls who look back on a history filled with the accomplishments of women?
Who are the women you know whose stories can be retold in this way? Give them a shout out here. Thanks to Google for their recent efforts in doing just that by showcasing the Annie Cannons and Nellie Blys of the world on their search page. And thanks to BBC for publishing the article that inspired this piece. You can read more about that here.
Sangita Kasturi of Action Inclusion drives organizations to transform how they hire, retain and promote women and people of color. Leveraging global insights across multiple industries, Action Inclusion builds the momentum to maximize existing talent, build new talent and equip leaders with the skills to leverage diversity and create a high-performing, inclusive workplace through strategies and workshops. Follow on Twitter @SangitaInSight or email skasturi@ActionInclusion.org. Connect on LinkedIn.