When dropping the "f" bomb is good for executive women

So there I was at the beginning of a speaking gig.  And all of a sudden I got the urge to drop the "f" bomb.

I wasn't feeling unusual. The environment wasn't any more supportive or challenging than normal and the crowd was fantastic.

Then I started to speak and  .... all of a sudden out it came.

And I feel great! 

Yes, I used the word feminist at a corporate function and it's about time.

F ...... ascinating.

I’ll keep saying I’m a feminist until there is no reaction.
— Justin Trudeau, Prime Minister, Canada

Feminism explained

Feminism is one of those words that goes in and out of fashion. In fact, Justin Trudeau, PM, Canada is widely credited with making the term fashionable again. Yet credit where credit is due to Gloria Steinem and others who have worked tirelessly for years on behalf of women. (Check out Gloria's show on SBS on Demand if you want to be inspired.)

In general feminism refers to ideas, philosophies and political activities that further the rights of women including education, employment, economic and social rights. Right now, we're seeing a significant push for increased female rights with female empowerment now a mainstream notion.

Yet there are many women and men who resist the term.  


Why did I mention it? 

Because I wanted to call a spade a spade. There is no use pussy footing around and pretending that what I do (helping to create empowered female leaders) is not an act of feminism. I'm not apologising and  .... nor should you for wanting to lead as a woman. Feminism isn't about tearing anyone down, it's about supporting the rights of women - which has a significant beneficial economic and social flow on effect for future generations of both men and women.

How did it come about?

Did you know that 1975 was International Women's Year? I'd forgotten. How interesting - a year just for women. Significantly the National Youth Council of Australia published an awesome little book entitled "If I Was A Lady and Other Picture Stories - a mature girl's guide to motherhood, occupation, education and pleasure" as part of the 1975 celebration of women.  Importantly, my mother recently found this book in storage and returned it to me. And it reminded me of where my ideologies had formed and my notions of what it means to be a contributing member of society.

So last week I brought this little blue book out at the Melbourne Showcase and we all had a good old time reading and reflecting. Yet most of us sighed and laughed in turn because it was obvious that while we've come a long way in some areas, we still have a long way to go.

A long way to go

Quartz media recently published an article by Charles Kenny entitled "An economist warns that the next generation of feminists will feel even more frustrated" which highlights exactly how far we have to go.

Areas that have improved significantly over the last 40+ years?

  • education for women
  • representation of women in policy and government
  • health programs for women 
  • employment for women in general 

Areas where we still have considerable way to go?

  • female leadership in government and corporate
  • expectations of women around housework and domestic duties
  • perpetuation of stereotypes in the media of both men and women
  • attitudes towards women and domestic violence

What's needed?

  • Straight talking and smart thinking. No more pussy footing around, and men along with women prepared to call a spade a spade. No more hiding behind attitudes of this is the way we've always done it round here.  Boards, shareholders and consumers/voters should be holding leaders to account.
  • Supported by cultural and behavioural change programs in combination with quotas and targets. Not EITHER/OR but YES/AND.  

This is not just women's work. This is far bigger than that.  Men and women in leadership need to stand up and be counted - not just because it's better for business and government, but because we'll all be better off as a result.

Because it's 2017

Justin Trudeau, when questioned about his decision to appoint a cabinet with 50% women, used the simple rationale of "because it's 2015".

I say, "We've been working hard at gender equity for years. It's now time to work far smarter!"
Why? Because it's 2017.

End of rant - and you can blame that little blue book "If I Was a Lady". 

Vive la révolution!

#ambitionrevolution #LookOutCSuiteHereSheComes #feminineambition #careerfutureproofing #visibility #womeninleadership

Let me know your thoughts.  Have you ever dropped the "f" bomb at work? If yes, why? If no, why not?

Feel like your leadership journey has stalled? Email ablesing@amandablesing.com to set up a 30 min one on one to learn more. Helping clients shift from feeling invisible to becoming invincible in just 12 months