It's a man's world

A number of conversations today reminded me of how dominated the world of business is by male views and characteristics and what a load of bollocks (literally) this is. The heroic male figure at the helm of an organisation taking all the really tough decisions, listening to feedback but not tolerating dissent is such a prevailing assumption that people think you are bonkers to suggest that other ways of running things may be possible. "The bottom" line is always invoked to justify these assumptions as if those interested in other ways of seeing the world didn't care about making money or being successful.

And yet there are so many examples of male views and characteristics actually damaging the bottom line in ways that have been repeated in all sorts of organisations over many decades and in different cultures.

[Later] With uncanny timing amba points in an e-mail to a great post on the subject from Ann Althouse which quotes Mike Ballard:

Two women from the University of East London asserted last summer in a paper, Implementation of Large Scale Software Applications, that a blinkered, hierarchical approach to the implementation of IT systems has also been linked to the failure of IT projects. Hierarchies, orders, supplication, obedience, puppy dogs tails - these are the things little boys are made of, as the authors pointed out.

A good way to sum up IT failures would be a lack of communication and collaboration, and that, if you have any truck with stereotypes, is what little girls are supposed to be made of.

But then goes on to warn against over simplistic gender stereotyping:

Researchers seem to believe it's just fine to stereotype as long as they put negative spin on everything associated with men -- "[h]ierarchies, orders, supplication, obedience, puppy dogs tails" -- and sugar-coat the presentation of the supposedly feminine characteristics -- "communication and collaboration" -- which are perfectly susceptible to restatement as negatives and which have traditionally been used to obstruct the advancement of women.

As ever the middle way is probably the right one but sometimes you need to pull a bit in the opposite direction to get back to the middle.

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