#BBCDad: If he was a woman, would it have gone viral?
Each time I see a friend sharing this story, all I can think is, if the professor was a woman, would we be responding in the same way? This story of the interrupted interview has been shared 30 million+ times on Facebook and on Twitter #BBCDad @BBCWorld @Robert_E_Kelly @BBC.
Would children interrupting a woman reporter be seen equally as cute, adorable, funny and open our hearts, or would there be different thoughts creeping in, such as, is she really being professional? Is working from home a good idea? Some might go as far as to question her expertise and academic status?
Don’t get me wrong, it is cute, it is wonderful to see what appears to be the nicely boxed parts of our lives such as ‘professional’ and ‘family’ colliding in such heart-warming ways. After all, we are ‘whole’ people … and perhaps who we are in our family life has something to add to our professional life.
And, the rapid global, viral nature of this video perhaps shows us the pervasive nature of our gender lens across countries and continents. That is, we like seeing a man, wearing the traditional regalia of ‘manhood’, (suit, professional title, expert) be softened and balanced by the traditional domain of the feminine; that is family and the corresponding values of care, warmth and the slight chaotic playfulness of children. In fact, it gives the man kudos – he is now both the professional expert and the caring family man.
Yet, my hypothesis is that our unseen gender lens would not have been ‘balanced’ or so favourable if the correspondent were a woman. For regardless of whether she was wearing a suit, had a professional title and was an expert, she would also still be wearing the unseen ‘feminine’ clothes of being soft, caring, warm, simply because she is a woman. Therefore, perhaps a playful child in the background would have been interpreted differently, giving her a double dose of the feminine, without the acquired and assumed authority of the ‘professional’ masculine to retain her status.
At the same time, I see the trailer for Wonder Woman has come out, showing this powerful warrior of a woman.
Again, don’t get me wrong, I’m going to see the movie and the trailer looks fantastic, and I’m really pleased that we are calling for more female leads in our cultural narrative (to add the phenomenally successful animated female superhero leads in Brave, Frozen, Inside Out). However, it is also interesting that the contrast of what is traditionally viewed as ‘masculine’ traits such as strong, warrior, protector balances a woman to make her more powerful. For instance, what would it be like if the superwoman trailer included her bringing up children or would that conflict too much with the Amazonian warrioress archetype that Wonder Woman embodies?
I’m a new mum and my partner and I are choosing to co-parent our daughter, part of which means we are sharing childcare responsibilities equally, with both of us working part-time. So perhaps the #BBCDad video is particularly pertinent as for us it could easily have been a video featuring either of us! Yet I also notice that of my friends sharing the #BBCDad video, many if not most are mums. Perhaps this video is bringing parenting out into the open in a new more human authentic way?
Wholeness, allowing women and men to embody their feminine and masculine traits in their authentic way, are in our experience the key to the type of leadership that is needed and wanted (by millennial and younger generations especially) today, and is what will bring true balance to our workplaces with the consequence of sustainability and profitability to our businesses. However, there are nuances to uncover, as we are yet to get comfortable with the idea that as a woman or man we have both masculine and feminine. We are yet to go fully beyond the unconscious bias of the ‘gender clothes’ that we wear, kind of like an inversion of the emperor’s clothes that he/she can’t take off even if they try! As we do, we will find that the stereotypes have been hiding valuable leadership qualities and now is the time to bring them to the forefront of our leadership.
As my daughter grows up, I have no doubt that gender will be viewed very differently, she will be seen and valued for all the qualities she brings into the world both feminine and masculine, and right now as the viral #BBCDad video shows, we are at a tipping point; curious, engaged and exploring what a balance might look like.
In our work with organisations we are seeing that it’s the balance of positively including both feminine and masculine qualities together that creates evolutionary strength to ride the huge waves of change and disruption across sectors. Now is the time to be resilient and sensitive, rational and intuitive, independent and collaborative, brave and sharing our vulnerability. As a result of this cultural shift to wholeness, we will create more gender balanced organisations with more woman at the top with a stronger voice. We will also be more connected in our professional capacity to our sense of purpose and what matters because our lives will become less boxed in, no longer will it be one-way traffic with email infiltrating the weekend, but rather a new healthy infusion of humanness will be flowing back into our 9-5. This may well seem fanciful to some but we believe that those organisations who choose to bring a balanced leadership approach will become more purpose driven and connected to their employees.
At WDI our experience is that bringing balanced leadership to the workplace is exactly what is needed and desired right now, and that means welcoming in those qualities that are culturally thought of as feminine – such as caring, intuitive, sensitive, relational, collaborative, empathetic. Intrigued to know more? @WDICONSULTING #energeticchange #WDIinsight