Co-Acculturating Women and Leadership

It’s funny how we react to certain issues but not to others. Dr. Anees Chagpar, associate professor of surgery at Yale University School of Medicine and a 2015-2016 Public Voices Fellow, points out the tendency to react to immediate and common appearances of discrimination, while ignoring the sometimes much more insidious higher level discrimination that takes place—harder to find, perhaps, unless one really looks for it. In her article That Saudi Starbucks Incident Shouldn’t Be So Shocking to American Women on Women’s eNews, Chagpar questions our tendency to rail about cultural discrimination in other countries, but a refusal to see it in the U.S. For instance, first refusing to serve women in a Starbucks in Saudi Arabia, and then creating separate entrances instead is viewed by Americans as a violation of gender equality, but that fact that only two of the twelve members of Starbucks’ Board of Directors are women escapes our notice. Certainly, there are a number of arguments to try to defend the lack of gender equity at leadership levels—women don’t seek promotion as often as men, there are not as many women experienced in leadership positions as men, women are intentionally overlooked or rejected for leadership positions—but the fact remains that women and leadership positions are not co-acculturated. That is something worth changing.

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