When it comes to women in business, over the last century, the Western World has put a lot of emphasis on equality – bringing women into the workforce, giving them equal rights and opportunities to those that men have, striving for gender balance in all kinds of professions. As our awareness and knowledge both as individuals and society grows, I believe we are entering a new phase in which the question is not going to be so much about equality, but about complementarity. It’s the transition from empowering women to empowering the feminine in both genders, but especially in women.
An important driver for this has been that through science, we’ve come to know as a fact what people have intuitively known for millennia – that women are just biologically different than men. Over 100 differences have been discovered between the average male and female brain, including:
- men have 7 times more grey matter than women, which means they are better able to keep a tunnel vision and focus on one thing at a time. Women have 10 times more white matter than men, allowing them to see the connections between things and multitask better.
- although both genders have the same chemicals/hormones, there are differences in our ability to process those. For example, a men’s brain is able to process testosterone better, which in conditions of stress makes him more prone to get physically active and get up and do stuff. A woman’s brain is better able to process oxytocin, meaning that she will look for bonding and connection in those situations.
- a woman’s brain has a larger hippocampus with much more neural connections in it. This means she is able to pick up and process more sensory and emotional input from her environment. She will also spend more time ruminating afterwards on a given situation, examining the emotional and social components of it, how did she feel, how others felt etc.
- a woman has two verbal centres, one in each side of the brain, whereas a man has just one. This means a woman will be prone to storytelling and talking more than a man and that she will be predisposed to include more emotional and sensual info in whatever she is explaining about.
Another driver comes from the field of psychology and the work of Carl Jung and his successors. Jung regards the feminine and the masculine as parts of the psyche of both men and women. Our ability to welcome and honour each of those in ourselves, in his view, has a direct impact on our wellbeing and success in life. In his work, the feminine aspect is associated with our ability to indulge in the present moment experience, feel deeply and express our emotions, connect with ourselves, others and nature, get in touch with our wild side, with the mystery of our experinece, with our souls, look inward and work with the world within. The masculine on the other hand, is related to our ability to explore and get to know the outside world, to gather facts about it and analyse, to use our reason and ingenuity to build things outside of us that make our lives better, to go forward with discipline, to set goals and act on them.
Based on those, one can easily see that the whole world of business has been constructed by men in a masculine way. Women came into it only later and have been focused on finding their way to function within that frame, as it is. I am pretty sure that I am not the only one who’s had the experience of saying “I’m sorry to slow things down and ask to look at the emotional component of our work” or “the meaning we find in doing this”. The feminine, regardless of whether it’s spoken by a woman or a man in business, can easily slide into apology, because the frame is just not made to support it. It’s made to set goals and chase them down at an ever faster pace. And I feel it shouldn’t be like that! It should be like ‘Oh my god, this is so exciting. We have this space to come together and examine this other aspect of our business.”. I want to see us step into our authority when the feminine is speaking in business, because I believe this will make it much more wholesome, exciting and fulfilling to work together.
Which is why I’d like to ask 3 questions, which I believe can help us channel our growing awareness of our differences and move towards a more complimentary and wholesome way of doing business:
- How do we create spaces and structures in existing business to support more of the feminine to come through? Spaces where women will lead initiatives for everyone to step into higher emotional awareness, explore the way emotions are affecting business and use it to drive deeper motivation and results. Spaces to use our capacity for storytelling and meaning-weaving to generate deeper connection with colleagues and customers. How can such spaces be included in the frame of business from a position of empowerment?
- What business areas will appear and grow as more women step into their feminine power? We’re already seeing a rise in businesses around personal development, spirituality, coaching, psychotherapy etc. in the West. In Bali, things go even further, with so many events, retreats and experiences designed around this. I’m curious to see how wide and how far can feminine creativity go when it comes to the starting new fields of business in line with feminine essence.
- How will the meaning of business change as we embrace more of the feminine? So far, the purpose of business has been to accomplish external goals and make money. Maybe embracing more of the feminine means looking at the inner meaning, the fulfilment we and everyone involved with our business gets from it. I’d definitely love to see that considered with equal importance as external goals we set for ourselves.
Looking forward to hear your thoughts and ideas on this. As well as any ideas that came through for you personally as to what you can do to explore and use more of your feminine in your work.