Women of Strength
I come from a long line of strong women. Just ask the men in our family – they’re also stronger than the average bear. Add to that a hearty storytelling gene woven throughout the colorful personalities in our clan and you’ve got some real lessons along with a good entertainment factor (I may be slightly biased in that respect).
I loved to hear my grandmother’s tales of riding the train to college in 1923 and her experiences as she earned her college degree – part of a family that highly values education. It brings a smile to my face to remember when she was 100, proudly introducing her dozens of granddaughters and great granddaughters as “intelligent, hard-working, gracious, smart and beautiful from the inside out.”
Women became 50% of college graduates by the 1980’s, but that advancement has not been reflected in the number of women in powerful positions – in government, business or any other arena. I was taught I can do anything I set my mind to, but is that really true?
I’ve not had to focus much on the “glass ceiling” – primarily because I have been an entrepreneur since college days. But the fact is, women have actually made very little progress in the last 50 years or so in terms of holding positions of power and influence.
This is of major importance, for reasons that outweigh equal pay for equal work. I’m convinced that men and women were designed to complement one another, not just in marriage (yet certainly starting there) but in the workplace, in politics – in everything.
We’ve come a long way – but there’s still a long way to go.
A Divine Design
How many patterns are we all functioning in that are outdated and counter-productive? I’m convinced that the cohesiveness we long for is found by going all the way back to the dawn of time, when God created male and female. We’ve all heard a ton of teaching about gender, but how much of it really reflects the truth? We were designed with a grand purpose and I sense we’re not even close to fulfilling it yet.
Deborah Gruenfied, a professor of leadership and organizational behavior at Stanford, states, “our entrenched cultural ideas associate men with leadership qualities and women with nurturing qualities and put women in a double bind.”
Remember the story about the lady who always cut off the end of her ham before cooking it? Every holiday, she repeated the same action. Her husband thought it wasteful and finally pressed her one day for the reason she did it. Her explanation was, “my mom always did it that way”. So they went to her mom to find out the reasoning. Same explanation – “my mom always did it that way”. So they went to the grandmother in search of the reason and she had one. Her roasting pan was too small for a large ham so she had to cut the end off to make it fit. What was practical in one instance became wasteful when modeled by others.
What About “Gender Reconciliation”?
I’m part of an international ministry that has several mandates that are central to the vision and mission of the organization including one for “gender reconciliation“. What does that mean?? Until recently, I didn’t really get it. As a Southerner, I’m aware of racial reconciliation; I get the need for that. But the significance of men and women ceasing the constant tug of war, forgiving one another and going forward to build something powerful eluded me. Until now. And now I want it.
Throughout history, there’s always been a lot of sniping between people groups that that are different from one another. There’s racial discrimination, religious and ethnic discrimination, political division….the list is long. Even in marriage – the foundation of families and the bedrock of society – the current divorce rate that tops 50% indicates a deep crack in fundamental relationships.
I’m not interested in perpetrating division and strife, I’m interested in unity. I long to reach across the divide and start a movement toward pooling our best gifts in an atmosphere of respect and integrity so that we can change the world. Together.
You may call me a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.
Honest discussion is always a good place to start when seeking any solution. Let’s start here. I’d love to read your comments.