THE BLOG

Gender Balance -- Where Do We Go From Here?

08/04/2014 10:29 am ET | Updated Oct 04, 2014
Martin Barraud via Getty Images

The question is often asked... where do we find a balance between work and home, between men and women working together? Much has been written and discussed about it, and many books have been published on this subject.

It is a learning curve for everyone, for leaders of corporations, for institutions, for organizations to ease into a better understanding. This understanding has to be provided from the top. There are some answers to these questions. Today there is a different consideration between women and men taking place. For years there was very little effective approach to move for a better understanding, for better communication. Yet this awareness of improving relationships needs to be a daily discourse. It is an essential consideration! Not just once in a while... but daily.

It is to be found in boardrooms, in and off the public arena, for if we are not aware of a problem how can we solve it? Oh, we have come a long way, yet we still have a long way to go. For the difference between women and men is still questioned and always will be. It is natural to question and then to finding answers. One answer would be men need to learn to have more empathy, women need to learn to present ideas less emotionally. We are talking about balance! This is an oversimplification to the problems at hand. We have to value and recognize the balance difference. All studies don't help unless they are applied daily. Men and women are not the same... Vive la difference... nor should they try to be. There is no denying women have achieved much during these many years. On the shoulders of the Boomer generation women have become leaders in some of the most male-oriented professions. Yet the question remains where do women and men go from here?

There is a myth that women quit jobs because the reason is personal. Yes, personal for they feel undervalued or underappreciated in what they are trying to accomplish. There is a misinterpretation that women leave the workplace for a more balanced work-life reason. It is mostly based on misunderstandings or disrespect and often inequality in pay. It has a most disturbing effect on validating the work, the contribution they make to the workforce.

In finding Gender Balance the great potential lies in combining the best what women and men offer. Many leaders are discovering the value of Gender Balance. In one of her books, Barbara Annis, a leader in corporate gender research, writes with Keith Merron in their latest book, titled Gender Intelligence (Breakthrough Strategies for Increasing Diversity and Improving
Your Bottom Line) " Women's evolving roles in the work world , advances in brain science research, and the explosion of career opportunities in the Information Age have all contributed to the current state of gender diversity in the workforce and affected how we think about it."

Here are a few insights how men and women react to the situation in a workplace.
Men are concerned about being accused of not being politically correct. They want to be respectful, yet are confused about the rules. Men also fear harassment allegations and think that they are either condescending or discriminating.
Women fear dismissive behavior, and feel excluded in decision making processes. Women should speak up in a non-blaming way. Women are good at building trust in relationships.

Today women have the opportunity to build great connections through networks, clubs,
special professional and interest groups, far more so than men. There are some extraordinary books published on this subject. More for women than for men. Men have their own groups, either through schooling or professional connections. In the past and traditionally the power balance has favored men. Yet women should avoid making sweeping generalizations about men. Men's challenge is to listen, being less dismissive, or treating women as inferior.

What is the solution? For women, by clearly stating their intentions in life, in work and calmly presenting their ideas, staying focused. For men, by being less judgmental, reassuring and expressing appreciation to a female colleague. It is built on common sense and mutual respect.

Finding answers to gender balance is a learning curve; there will be differences, learn to listen actively and solutions can be found. Women and men think very differently, as if we lived in different realities or worlds... and may I add again "vive la difference."