Women and Men: How different, how the same?

In this, the third posting on the topic of women and work, I diverge just a bit.  As I’ve researched and thought about women and men, I kept running into studies that compared the two groups, and this got me to wondering just how strong our differences are and in what areas?  There are the obvious differences in average height, weight, and strength.  There are also areas like cognitive skills in math and reading comprehension where the research is particularly illuminating.  But today, I focus on two areas where really good data is available:  How we perceive and how we make judgements.  It turns out that there is a test that has been taken by hundreds of thousands of people, called The Myers Briggs Type Indicator, and the results are quite surprising.

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Who Would You Hire?

Actually, the title is a bit misleading.  I actually want to ask you who would you promote, but this didn’t seem quite as catchy a headline.  So, here’s the situation.  You have a senior position available in your organization, and it is up to you to decide between two internal candidates.  Both are high achieving and have consistent track records of success.  And, you have available to you the results of 360 degree feedback, a tool you may or may not be aware of.  Simply put, it is one way to obtain performance feedback from a large cross-section of co-workers….not just the person’s manager, but also peers and subordinates.  I’ll share with you the feedback from the 360 feedback and ask you what decision you’d make.  Who would you promote? Continue reading

Women and Work: The So Sad Story of “Great to Good”

Women and the workplace have been much in the news of late.  Sheryl Sandberg’s recent “Lean In” book focuses on women adopting a different, ‘will to lead’ attitude .  Recent press regarding the gender wage gap (full-time working women earn 77 cents for every $1.00 a man makes) focuses on pay inequity.  And a recent article in The Atlantic, called “The Confidence Gap” is about….well, I think the title says it all.  If you look carefully, you’ll see a pattern:  In total, the current conversation focuses on two root causes.  First, the cultural and societal biases that put women at a disadvantage to men despite ample evidence of equal skills and preparation for work and careers.  Second, the things woman are NOT doing that then puts them at a disadvantage…not leaning forward, not taking risks, not pursuing careers in historically male-dominating professions.

While external biases and internal, self-imposed limitations are certainly real and in need of focus for and on behalf of women, I would suggest that there is a far sadder, even tragic lost opportunity reflected in the fact that women are not getting a fair shake; are not being valued for who and what they are in work and beyond.  This is where Jim Collins “Good to Great” comes in (along with my twist on this in the title to this post).

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Life and Work Skills of the Future

I’ve written about the impact of The Information Age and The Technology Revolution on work….what jobs are emerging and going away….what skills are needed.  And there is no doubt that technology is transforming the nature of work and how we live our lives.  But, here at Champlain College, we are going through an exercise about what competencies we want our students to have when they graduate, and have found something surprising.  Many of the emerging skills that will be in demand in the future are not obviously connected to technology.

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A Lesson from ‘The Cold Call Pope’

This week, the New York Times ran a story about Pope Francis.  It seems he’s been spontaneously calling people who reach out to him for help —  a pregnant woman who’s boyfriend is pressuring her to have an abortion; a man whose brother was murdered during a robbery; etc.  He offers solace and comfort, and generally does what ‘The Peoples’ Pope’ would naturally do.  He’s now earned a second nickname:  The Cold Call Pope.  But, this new development has come with some controversy associated with it.  How could that possibly be, you ask?  And what can we learn from it?

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