Wednesday, January 6, 2010

It's Feminist leadership but sshhhh don't tell!

In my current graduate school pursuits I am focusing on leadership and management for specifically the social sector. The more I learn about "new" models of leadership and progressive changes in management, the more I realize that these innovations actually took place many decades ago with the exploration and development of feminist theory. With our current economic turmoil and the ever increasing demands of social change and social service, management theory is finally grasping onto concepts like "multicultural/generational cooperation" and "shared leadership". Correct me if I am wrong but feminists have been practicing this type of inclusion and flattened structures of power for centuries. Consciousness raising groups, collectives, communal living, shared/rotating leadership positions, cultivation of minority and inexperienced talents, etc are literally the functional past of feminism and the women's movement.
Don't get me wrong, I think the main stream actualization of these concepts and practices is fabulous. The social sector, the market and the government should all adopt feminist management techniques since they demand organizations, and their shareholders, be more inclusive, innovative and, dare I say, humane. What bothers me is the complete absence of mention, credit or reference to anything or anyone feminist. Why is it much too emasculating for managerial big wigs to "admit" to taking pointers (and seeing astounding results) from feminists? Are feminist theorists not well-educated and experienced thinkers too who deserve credit for their intellectual property? Or is that just another aspect of their own lives that feminists do not deserve control over? I have yet to read one piece of management/leadership literature (and yes I have read quite a lot at this point) that gives any reference to feminist theory. That is of course with exception of a few resources I have searched out myself to fill the feminist management theory void provided by my very notable business school education (The Structure of Women's Nonprofit Organizations by Rebecca L. Bordt is a good starting point).

I sure hope that my fellow feminists do not let our ideas and histories to be commandeered as it seems they currently are...

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