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Karen Edwards Blogger

The Strengths Women Bring to the O&P Profession

Posted by Karen Edwards | August 20, 2015

​Welcome to the August edition of the ÖWLI blog! Everyone's thoughts this month have no doubt been consumed with the proposed Medicare LCD changes. ÖWLI in partnership with Össur R&R has worked tirelessly to bring you information, updates, and steps you can take to fight these changes. Our ÖWLI Call to Action letter went out to all ÖWLI members last week with tips on how to step up as a leader and rally your peers and patients. Next week on Wednesday 8/26, ÖWLI and Össur R&R will attend the DME LCD Public Comment Meeting in Linthicum, MD. If you would like to sit with us, just drop us an email at and let us know. Be SURE to register here to attend by FRIDAY 8/21.

Our past blogs have looked at ways we can communicate more effectively, speak up and ask for what we want and recognize gender biases that may be standing in our way. But one thing we haven't talked about is the strengths that women bring to this industry. Recognizing the unique talents we have in addition to our skills as practitioners validates that we have the right to speak up and ask for what we want, and that it is okay to have an expectation of equal and respectful treatment within the workplace. So, in this month's blog, we look at three of the unique strengths women bring to the field of O&P.

1.       Women listen.  Women are born communicators, and this skill involves asking questions that help us understand the other party as well as listening intensely to the responses. This makes women more likely than men to be flexible to patient needs and concerns because we are willing to really hear what the patient is saying, and understand what they want.[1]

2.       Women know how to collaborate. Following on being natural communicators, we are also natural collaborators. We have learned from girlhood to work together and have empathy for each other in order to find common solutions to keep peace on the playground which, in turn, allows our friendships to flourish. Substantiating this, CAPT personality type percentages show that women are TWICE as likely to have a "Feeling" Myers-Briggs personality preference, which is evidenced our ability to collaborate and empathize.

In business, when we come together and engage in conversation, we raise new questions and think of possibilities at a collective level that we would not have considered on our own. Collaboration is not just connecting with people. It is also an attitude of helpfulness. Successful women know that playing nice is a sign of strength.[2] 

3.       Women are Relationship Specialists.  As specialists in communicating and collaborating, it only makes sense that women are also specialists in relationship building.  We value harmonious, mutually beneficial, supportive relationships, partly because nurturing other people has been drummed into us since girlhood, but also because we value making other people feel good. According to Ken Llopis of Forbes Magazine, "Women are specialists at cultivating relationships that are purposeful, genuine and meaningful. They focus on growing healthy, long-lasting relationships. Women don't quit. Women are masters at facilitating connection points between people, resources and relationships. This is why women are such effective and efficient leaders. They don't waste time and can quickly identify areas to consolidate, organize and strengthen business outcomes. They aim to assure the betterment of a healthier whole."[3]

These and other strengths that women bring to O&P will not only bolster our profession, but are also the leadership traits that are becoming more and more in demand. Dr. Musimbi Kanyoro, the World YWCA Secretary General, says attitudes toward leadership are changing and what women offer is essential:  "Domination as a leadership style is becoming less and less popular. There is a new growing appreciation of...those traits that women use to keep families together and to organize volunteers to unite and make change in the shared life of communities. These newly admired leadership qualities of shared leadership; nurturance and doing good for others are today not only sought after but also indeed needed to make a difference in the world....A feminine way of leading includes helping the world to understand and be principled about values that really matter."[4]

Obviously there are even more ways women enhance this industry. Recognize your value to the profession and to your own organization. Feel confident and empowered to lead every day!

ÖWLI Book Club:  As promised last month and by request, we are kicking off the ÖWLI book club this month! We will start with the book that started it all…Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg. Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, examines why women's progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential. It is a quick read, well researched, and eye opening! Buy the book (any form), read it between now and October 16 and on the 16th we will have a webinar to discuss our thoughts. Invitations to the book club discussion will be sent out in a few weeks.

MARK YOUR CALENDARS:  Reserve a spot on your schedule for the following upcoming ÖWLI events…

Sept. Webinar:  ÖWLI Webinar, TBA This webinar is being reworked, but we promise to announce something awesome VERY soon!

Oct. 16:  ÖWLI Book Club Discussion Webinar, 1-2pm EDT

Nov:  20:  ÖWLI Webinar, 12-1pm EDT:  Selena Rezvani, "The Art of the Ask: Negotiating with Confidence." Selena is the author of "Pushback: How Smart Women Ask and Stand Up For What They Want." 

April 28-30, 2016:  Össur Women's Leadership Initiative Conference, Orlando, FL. More details to come on this event and how to register!

We hope to see you in Linthicum next week! Next month's blog will be the next highlight in our Profile of Women in O&P series. Be sure to join our Facebook page discussion group (search for Ossur Women's Leadership Initiative) and follow us on Twitter @OWLIOssur. Thanks for being a part of ÖWLI and continue to submit ideas and suggestions as to how we can help you develop as a leader via email, Facebook or Twitter!

Until September,

Karen Edwards

Director, Össur Women's Leadership Initiative


ÖWLI Quote of the Month:  "I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." – Maya Angelou

Talk to us!! Your feedback is welcomed and encouraged! Please let us know what you think of our initiative, share your ideas, share your victories, or just say "hi" by emailing us at And follow us on Twitter @OWLIOssur and Facebook at Össur Women's Leadership Initiative page.

[1] Strategies and Tactics for Women: 45+ Best Assets Women Bring to Business, Dr. Shannon Reece, Oct. 31, 2011, webpage

[2] Women's Strengths and the Value They Bring to the Corporate Table, Don Tennant, Aug. 17, 2011, webpage

[3] "4 Skills that Give Women a Sustainable Advantage Over Men," Ken Llopis, Forbes Magazine, Aug. 22, 2011, webpage

[4] Qualities of Women Leaders: The Unique Leadership Characteristics of Women, Linda Lowen, About News, webpage