Giving wrongheaded tropes a decent burial surely must be one of life’s great pleasures. Particularly when they are the spawn of misguided judgment.
And here’s a fine boneyard candidate: The still prevailing mindset that women are somehow less qualified to lead senior living organizations, or the boards that guide them.
Perhaps the most generous thing that can be said about this quaint notion is that it just ain’t so.
When she accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award during the McKnight’s Women of Distinction awards ceremony, Lynne Katzmann threw down the proverbial gauntlet. The founder and CEO of Juniper Communities demanded more female representation in C-suites and beyond. Amen.
As for the stereotypical notion that women somehow don’t have what it takes, the facts clearly prove otherwise.
Consider a study appearing in the Harvard Business Review. The headline probably tells you all you need to know: “Research: women score higher than men in most leadership skills.”
Authors Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman looked at their database of 360 degree reviews. And what did they find? Women in leadership positions are perceived just as — if not more — competent as their male counterparts.
So if that’s the case, why aren’t we seeing a massive shift at the top? Well, for starters, there’s this little thing called centuries of cultural biases. Stereotypes die slowly. Don’t believe me? Ever hear a black athlete described as a grinder who gets by on smarts? No, that description is reserved for white players. Black athletes simply have more raw talent, right? Wrong.
There is also a convenient prejudice that holds women don’t really want to aspire to the top levels. Which of course explains why the United States does not have a women’s soccer team. And why no women are interested in playing on it, right? Wrong again.
In some ways, senior living is actually more progressive here than other sectors. Still, there is plenty of room for improvement.
And let’s be blunt, gender balance at the top is no act of charity. Here’s what it is: Good for business.