WITI (Women in Technology International) Summit is an event celebrating women in technology. Executive women, entrepreneurs, and technology thought leaders meet to build connections, discuss common challenges in the workplace, and explore new business opportunities.
“Why are you going to WITI?”
I pondered this question a lot before I got to WITI: as a man, did I deserve to be there? Should I be taking up seats during WITI sessions, when most of the content is geared towards empowering women?
Then the “a-ha” moment hit: It’s NOT about me. If I approached the event like a fool, just thinking about what I got out of it, I’d lose perspective about why WITI Summit exists at all. WITI isn’t about me: It’s about we.
This was especially encapsulated by a session at WITI Summit called “Gender Synergy: How Smart Women and Wise Men Are Working Together To Outperform Their Competitors.” Hosted by Will Marré, the session centered on how men and women can converge together to create great businesses.
Marré defines the motivations of men and women in business as follows:
A man walks the “hero’s journey:” Work hard, achieve, succeed. It’s a very simple path, where overcoming obstacles through perseverance takes precedence over familial commitments and personal crises.
Women, on the other hand, are not expected to follow the hero’s journey. Rather, success for women is defined as being a supportive, nurturing caregiver. We’ll call this “warm” behavior. Unfortunately, this type of behavior often gets overlooked and unrewarded in the workplace, despite how impactful a collaborative supporter she may be. The path to promotion for women seems to involve acting as “heroes” who are goal-focused and self-sacrificing. We’ll call this “strong” behavior. However, conflict occurs when a woman acting as a “hero” works in a culture focused on propping men up as the main achievers. Marré argues that today’s work culture promotes disillusionment in women because women are not properly rewarded for their successes no matter how they act: Warm or strong.
According to Marré, we need a revolution for our work cultures. Right now, we only focus on rewarding heroes, not collaborators. And when we do reward heroes, they tend to be men. He proposes work cultures lead by strong and warm women, along with men who understand that both behaviors should be rewarded.
What do you think companies should do to bridge the synergy gap between men and women?