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Seeing into Our Unconscious Blind Spots

How Judgements on the Strategic Capability of Women May Actually Expose Our Own Strategic Short Comings. 

by Beth Wanner

There are no shortages of books, articles, and opinions on the challenges women face in their careers – to the wage gap, to family planning, to the additional challenges women face if they are also a woman of color – it’s rare that you come across a fresh angle.

In Jess Iandiorio’s article The Real Reason Women Aren’t Getting Ahead in Tech: “She’s Not Strategic”, not only did she present a new angle that I hadn’t considered before, it resonated with me on several different levels: as a woman who has experienced what Jess describes, and as a leader and peer who is guilty of what Jess describes.

Jess details an unconscious bias that many of us have, both men and women, that tends to pass judgement on the strategic capabilities of women. I readily admit that these judgements also apply to men but we have far more examples of successful men we consider to be strategic to help guide our assumptions than we do for women, making it more likely that we apply a closer critical lens to deciding whether a woman is strategic than a man.

What I value about Jess’ article is it provides some really actionable advice for both women who strive to be considered strategic, and all of us who make assumptions on strategic capabilities – either about our peers or from a position of promoting and coaching others.

Jess also provides a great definition of her take on what it means to be strategic. How often have you heard, or how often have you yourself said, “I want to be involved in strategy” or “I want this person to be more strategic” but then struggled to describe what that means? Regardless of gender, Jess provides a great base definition that’s helpful to frame what being strategic looks like.

So if you are a woman… know a woman… want to be more strategic… or want others to be more strategic (I think this safely covers everyone), I encourage you to check our Jess’ perspective and let me know what you think. Helpful? Not helpful? Agree? Disagree? Let’s start a conversation.

-BW

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