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Karen Edwards Blogger

You're a Good (Wo)Man!

Posted by Karen Edwards | April 20, 2016

​Welcome to the April 2016 edition of the ÖWLI blog. Spring is here and ÖWLI is gearing up for some great events, the highlight of which is our first Össur Women's Leadership Conference (Sept. 15-17 in Orlando. See the calendar for more information). Speaking of the conference, FEMALE O&P OWNERS AND MANAGERS, we are hosting a special roundtable discussion specifically for you the morning of the conference. We sincerely hope you will attend and be part of this unique discussion!

This month we are pleased to have guest blogger Josh Ross. Josh is currently a Regional Government Accounts Manager and Senior Area Manager for Össur (and a strong ÖWLI supporter). He is also a former marine and father of two (soon to be three) children. Josh reflects on how having a son and a daughter has made him think about the unconscious ways we act differently to each gender and potential effects of those actions.


"You're a Good (Wo)Man"

"You're a good man, Grant!" This statement was particularly comical to me given the context. Our Chicago kitchen was in organized chaos as we prepared to move. My son had taken to my request of "helping me" tape up boxes for items in the pantry. He barely has two years, but he had been helpful. Yes, if you're asking, I could have done it faster myself; however, when you are packing with two kids under five and with a wife due with our third, the unnecessary help is unquestionably more preferred than the absolutely counterproductive meltdowns. 

"You're a good man." The statement rolled off my tongue with an old-boy network sort of tone, and I shook his hand as if he were a man of great stature. I was having fun and encouraging him to be helpful, a fun teaching moment of sorts.

"You're a good man." What would be the female equivalent? Something I hadn't given much thought to until recently. I often don't think of something as subtle as the way I say things or the dominance of the male pronouns in most text as an issue. It's always been that way to me. I have never perceived the harm. In fact, I embodied these words on a majority level.

With these words, my intention is to teach my son. I want him to determine his own path, have confidence, and be passionate. I strive to teach my son. Moreover, I will strive harder to teach these principles to my daughter(s), as I believe the societal norm of teaching leadership has catered more to our son. I don't approach this from an extremely feministic way either. As a United States Marine Corps veteran, I still have reservations about the idea of my daughter fighting in a combat zone. And if I'm being honest, probably more than if my son were to do so. As a dad, there has to be something natural to that, right or wrong. However, I would certainly feel a glow in my eyes if my daughter's self-determination revealed itself and proved me wrong along with anyone else who doubted her capabilities to pound sand.

When I think about how our society raises girls, I begin to wonder how we may or may not limit our daughters. More and more, it is the case that women break barriers. Women's leadership in corporations and within the household has become more prevalent. While inspiring, it's still not an equal playing field. I would like to think that societal cues from the past have lost their residue in the workplace (especially in the developed part of the world) and that any inequality that exists is because of a lack of awareness, not intentional bias.  

Awareness and intentionality are linked in complexity.  I believe that most people don't want to intentionally limit anyone's progress. However, does seeing the men's-only club of the United States presidency help form or derail aspirations for our children?  What sits in their unconscious collective minds? This convergence of intention and awareness is the critical point.  We are not having conversations with this in mind. When we are not having this conversation, we can't fully understand the consequences our actions have on women. Hence, women's ability to reach leadership roles easily becomes an afterthought. There are many times I have said something that resulted in unintended consequences and someone has misinterpreted what I meant.  In fairness, the opposite is true as well. We often don't understand the effects of our actions and inactions. Some take action with blatant disrespect, but that is not what we are talking about. We are talking about the subtleties.

In kind, I personally am not a fan of hyper political correctness. It annoys me; however, I typically air on the side of fairness and forgo my frustrations about, for example, saying, "Merry Christmas," if it means someone would take would take offense.

We should start by first having an honest conversation with ourselves and asking what unconscious biases can we identify in ourselves that are causing us to limit people? Then we should broaden this to discussions with women and men we work with, and with friends and family, to understand how people interpret these words and actions.  

My daughter Sophie is "a good woman," and I want these words to mean the same as they do when I speak about my son. I want my daughter to grow up in a world where she determines what she wants to do and is limited only by her imagination. I want her to learn to have a firm handshake and to look you in the eyes.

It is with these ideas in mind that we all hold the responsibility to create a level playing field. I challenge readers to reach out to co-workers and family members to discuss the subtleties of words and actions. Understand their perspectives around women's leadership and make sure they understand your position. Even if they are not asking, it will benefit everyone, including my son, because I never what to see Grant take a position from Sophie if she has outworked him!

To continue the conversation, check out this podcast with Caroline Paul. She will inspire you:

//itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-tim-ferriss-show/id863897795?mt=2&i=366221454

Thank you, Josh, for a thought-provoking article, and for your support of OWLI!


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

May 13, 2016, 12-1pm EDT:  Webinar: What Works for Women at Work. Our educational webinar series returns with a presentation of the video "What Works for Women at Work" by Joan C. Williams, Distinguished Professor of Law at UC Hastings and Founding Director of Center for WorkLife Law. This video discusses the four basic patterns of bias that women face at work and how to handle them. We will follow the video with a discussion of these four topics, their relevance to the O&P industry, and solutions for overcoming them. REGISTER HERE

June 17-24, 2016:  ÖWLI Online Book Club Discussion. We are trying a new twist on the book club this quarter and hosting a week-long online discussion. Each day during that week, we will post a new discussion question. Participants can respond to the questions anytime during that week. This quarter our book will be "The Confidence Effect" by Grace Killelea. The "Confidence Effect" helps women speak out, take risks and assume leadership positions. This book offers practical strategies to turn job competence into the kind of authentic confidence that gets noticed. Join the book club group on Facebook at "OWLI Book Club." BONUS:  The first five ÖWLI members to join the Book Club page will receive a FREE copy of the book! On your marks, get set, GO!!

 

Sept. 15-17, 2016:  Össur Women's Leadership Initiative Conference, Orlando, FL. We are truly excited to offer our first Women's Leadership Conference! Please join us for a FIRST-CLASS education and networking event at Össur's Orlando facility.  This three-day conference will focus on issues relevant to female O&P practitioners as well as leadership development. CEU's will be offered for eligible courses (approximately 20 hours and we will confirm this once we have approval) and topics include leadership development by former Black Hawk fighter pilot Elizabeth McCormick, career development led by a panel of female O&P owners and managers, and the chance to network with your female peers and colleagues. Best of all, the event is FREE and includes all meals (including a super fun dinner outing on the Friday)! Register EARLY as spaces are limited to 50 attendees and we are already over half full! Click here to register:  //owli-conf-2016.eventbrite.com

Join our Facebook page! The ÖWLI Facebook page offers a forum for you to communicate with other women in the profession. Please use this page freely to ask questions, share informative articles and ideas, and stay up to date on everything ÖWLI. Just search for "Ossur Women's Leadership Initiative." Thanks, as always, 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 May,

Karen Edwards

Director, Össur Women's Leadership Initiative

ÖWLI Quote of the Month:  "You can and should set your own limits and clearly articulate them. This takes courage, but it is also liberating and empowering, and often earns you new respect." – Rosalind Brewer, President and CEO of Sam's Club, a division of Wal-Mart Stores Inc.

 

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 OWLI@Ossur.com. And follow us on Twitter @OWLIOssur and Facebook at Össur Women's Leadership Initiative page.