Is Female Empowerment the Next Step in Human Evolution?

Is Female Empowerment the Next Step in Human Evolution?
This post was published on the now-closed HuffPost Contributor platform. Contributors control their own work and posted freely to our site. If you need to flag this entry as abusive, send us an email.

After millennia dominated by patriarchy, and marked by constant strife, important cultural change is underway. Mounting evidence points to the fact that when women join the ranks of top business management, government, and grassroots efforts, processes tend to improve. Women are generally better at consensus building and big picture thinking. Also, they seem less amenable to the temptations of corruption.

In the US in 2016, 57% bachelor’s and 61% of master’s degrees were awarded to women. Women recently became the majority of the American workforce. And over 50% of managers are women. Between 2002 and 2014, Quantopian compared the performance of Fortune 1000 companies headed by female CEOs to the S&P 500’s record over that same timeframe. The result—226% better financial outcomes.

In addition, the presence of women in corporate organizations seems to mitigate reckless and dangerous decision-making.

Here is a brief compendium of some impactful female whistleblowers:

As peacemakers, women also make valuable contributions. According to the site, “When women are included in peace processes, there is a 20% increase in the probability of an agreement lasting at least 2 years, and a 35% increase in the probably of an agreement lasting at least 15 years.” Female participation and leadership in peacekeeping is a key element in mission success. Increasingly, women, are working to counter extremism in conflict zones, as judges, activists, and government officials. The UN Women’s Multi-Country Office is helping to promote these efforts.

One region on the planet has the greatest gender parity—the Nordic countries. This area also has among the highest life satisfaction statistics, according to global surveys.

Sweden leads the region with over 44% women in parliamentary positions. Other Nordic countries are not far behind. These countries also have strong statistics for women in ministerial level positions. Iceland, Sweden, Norway, and Finland are the best in this category. Countries with the most female lawmakers have made important strides in education, paid leave, labor-force participation, and wage parity.

Steve Jobs was one of the most innovative CEOs in American history. But he was also known for berating people publicly—creating an environment of fear and intimidation. His boosters believe this led to a culture of excellence. But it has also encouraged a follow-on environment in Silicon Valley that seems increasingly toxic. As evidenced by the corporate cultures of Uber, Amazon, and others, which are reported to be exceptionally stressful and sometimes abusive.

This managerial approach may yield short term results. But it is not conducive to employee retention and overall good health. Studies have shown that hyper-critical leadership many times leads to office conflict and defeated employees. It can also lead to serious health issues like high blood pressure, weight gain, depression, and substance abuse.

It is unlikely that a management culture heavily influenced by women would promote or tolerate this kind of behavior. Transparency, collaboration, inclusion, and mentoring are skillsets most often associated with women.

Story and narrative will also be important in promoting gender equality. We have featured the power of story in a previous blog. Stories win hearts and minds in ways that facts and figures rarely do. As actress Jessica Chastain noted in a speech at Cannes 2017, it is crucial for women to have greater access to the levers of storytelling power to facilitate industry change.

Wonder Woman, directed by Patty Jenkins, recently had the biggest opening weekend of all time for a female director. It’s a bonafide blockbuster, and will lead to greater power and influence by female storytellers. Women directors like Kathryn Bigelow, Jane Campion, Amy Heckerling, Sofia Coppola, Ava DuVernay, and others have already made their mark in Hollywood and the marketplace. But we have a long way to go toward gender parity in the creation of our cultural landscape.

And as evidence for the power of even a single female voice/story, there is Malala Yousafzai. When she was only 12, she began blogging under a pseudonym for the BBC about life under the Taliban occupation of her native Swat Valley, Pakistan. She rose to prominence via print and TV interviews. Then, while riding on a school bus, she was shot in the head during an assassination attempt—a Taliban retaliation for her advocacy around education for girls. Her story and her activism has inspired people of all faiths and backgrounds around the world. Her memoir I Am Malala became an international bestseller, and in 2014, at the age of 17, she became the youngest Nobel Laureate in history.

In a variety of different realms, the conclusion is clear: when women share power, in key roles, things improve across the board. It’s time for female empowerment to continue and to proliferate.

Steven and Michael Meloan are authors of “The Shroud,” a science-adventure novel exploring the spiritual impulse, tribalism and its manifestations in human behavior, and the intersection between science and spirituality:

Follow Steven and Michael Meloan on Twitter:

Popular in the Community