United Kingdom Research and Innovation, Medical Research Council and King's College London

We don’t need to fix women to become leaders


We don’t need to fix women to become leaders

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In an engaging opinion piece, published today in the Times Higher Education, Corinne Houart highlights common misperceptions of female leaders in academia and proposes a way forward.

Professor Houart, Deputy Director of the Centre for Developmental Neurobiology and 2016 awardee of Suffrage Science, grew up in 1970s Brussels and remarks how in her experience, the sexes have become more segregated than 50 years ago. We have gone from a status quo of treating individuals as individuals to a pink and blue world where stereotypes are rife. Houart goes on to talk about her experiences in academia. It is taken for granted that the white man’s approach to leadership is the aspirational model and so the solution has been simple: model female leaders in the image of the archetypal successful male. These fundamental beliefs are called into question in the article and instead the value of typically female and typically male leadership characteristics is noted.

The article goes on to discuss the value of diverse leadership characteristics and makes a strong case for integrating human diversity in leadership to respect and reflect the riches of diversity amongst all of us.

An active approach to change what we understand as good leadership is what’s required, suggests Houart. She proposes a detailed and, perhaps more importantly, realistic way to embrace our differences through the commissioning of a report and working group tasked with directly addressing this issue.

The full article is available to download from our website.

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