We asked Lea Woods, from the Center for Women’s Leadership in Oregon, USA, what #TheNextFrontier means to her.
“Frontier” brings to mind discovery, exploration, and innovation. So one could reasonably expect that progressing toward #TheNewFrontier in women’s leadership would necessitate that we implement changes that are, well, new. Paradoxically, progress sometimes compels us to rely on the old.
Women who pursue leadership positions, even in male dominated fields, are not entering uncharted territory. Precedent has been set, flags have been planted, and women have laid claim to positions in virtually every field in existence.
The question of whether women can be successful leaders is no longer hypothetical. We know women can govern themselves, their communities, and their countries because we have seen them do it time and time again. And there is no question as to how to create avenues for women to succeed. The successful application of countless methods has facilitated their success in other countries worldwide. What is left is for us to implement the policies we already know are successful in closing the gender gap.
To this end, #TheNextFrontier in women’s leadership is the realisation of women’s potential. We have only to institute the changes we know to be effective in order to empower women to pursue their objectives. Empowerment can mean many things. Under the guise of education it can mean giving women the knowledge and skills to provide for themselves. Educating women has been key to increasing the standard of living in developing nations. Institutionally, empowerment can mean supporting policies and social services such as maternal and paternal paid leave, flexible scheduling, affordable childcare, and freely accessible contraception so that women are not forced to choose between their families and their careers. These changes will enable women to pursue leadership opportunities. But empowerment can also mean changing the existing power structure so that female leaders are not shut out of the higher echelons of governance. Introducing quotas into parliaments and corporate boardrooms ensures that women have the opportunity to participate in decision-making processes.
If we follow the path set by pioneering countries such as Norway, the Philippines, and Rwanda in empowering women, #TheNextFrontier will be a world in which women will play an equal role in shaping the future.
The Center for Women’s Leadership is changing the way leadership looks, through teaching and training programmes aimed at empowering women and girls. Check their Facebook to keep updated with their amazing work.