The Gender Gap: Let's Stop "Fixing" Women

Feb. 13, 2018

In the Headlines
male female bathroom sign

A fresh prospective from the University of Arizona addresses the neuroscience of bias in men and women to create more inclusive organizations and to untap US$5.3 trillion opportunities.

For the first time ever, a new program is bringing together men and women with the ambitious goal of creating a different way of exploring and resolving the gender gap. This program is not about “fixing” women or about women trying harder. It is about working together – men and women – to analyse what power women bring to the organization, what is needed to thrive, and how best to foster this experience for others.

Our research in this field supports our program objective. In January 2018, we interviewed over 180 men and women senior executives and uncovered some worrying statistics:

53% have experienced a subculture of male separatism
85% experienced a reluctance on the women’s part to rock the boat
51% had experienced confusion around gender roles at work

The University of Arizona – Eller College of Management – is organizing a three-day executive leadership program which will take place on 31 May, 2018 to address some of these issues.

Five key themes will be explored:

• Unseen barriers and unconscious bias
• Best leadership practices of inclusive organizations
• Creating a sustainable work & personal environment
• Changes driven by men and women alliances for change
• Building critical mass and harnessing talent in the face of exclusion

The World Economic Forum predicts that it will take 217 years to close the gender gap. At the same time, it estimates that the world as a whole could increase global GDP by US$5.3 trillion by 2025 by closing the gender gap in economic participation by 25 percent over the same period. These staggering figures are only the tip of the iceberg of an issue which has been silenced for too long.

“Women in Leadership programs are too focused on “fixing” women, having them embrace masculine leadership models and not on helping them address the issues of inequality at work,” comments Joe Carella, Assistant Dean at University of Arizona, Eller College of Management. “What we see around is that the dialogue between men and women is still based on obsolete ideas such as “Men are from Mars/Women are from Venus." We want to change the way we think about the role of men and women to both genders’ benefit”.

Researchers at the University of Arizona firmly believe that what has been lacking all the time is the unconscious bias in leaders and in the organizations and why the gender gap has been allowed to widen into a chasm.

The University of Arizona’s program addresses the neuroscience of bias in men and women. “They both have strengths they bring to work, and areas where they need to improve”, adds Joe Carella.

It will also help understand how bias embedded in the way organizations are run (recruitment and advancement for example) and how to create more inclusive organizations where women are allowed to succeed.

Above all, it will create a dialogue between men and women so that they can find better ways to advance the organization and tap into the US$5.3 trillion opportunities.