Betty-Ann Heggie: Understanding Gender Dynamics

How do we change the culture of business to value both masculine and feminine attributes? How do we learn to recognize the unconscious bias that fuels inequality? Betty-Ann Heggie contends that mentorship and open dialogue are key first steps in understanding gender dynamics in the workplace and overcoming our subconscious conditioning.

Heggie is a speaker, author and mentor in the realm of gender physics, the study of masculine and feminine energy present in each of us. A widely recognized thought leader, Heggie’s work on gender dynamics has been featured in Harvard Business Review, Inc. Magazine and Huffington Post, and she has been inducted into the Hall of Fame of Canada’s Top 100 Most Powerful Women. Heggie is committed to helping men and women make progress together in the modern workplace, and she is the author of Gender Physics: Unlock the Energy You Never Knew You Had to Get the Results You Want.

Today, Heggie describes the subconscious bias that informs our expectations of how men and women should act and explains how it makes impacts who we see as leaders in the workplace. She offers insight around making the conscious effort to overcome such conditioning, suggesting conversation and calling out inequality as the first steps in creating change. Listen in for Heggie’s advice on building relationships with potential mentors, both male and female, and learn how to look at mentorship as being open for growth.

Key Interview Takeaways

Subconscious bias informs our expectations around how men and women should act. We tend to associate the skills of leadership with masculine traits like independence and self-sufficiency, and female leaders have to cloak those characteristics in feminine skills to be liked and accepted.

Initiating the conversation is the first step in changing the culture of business. Women need both male and female mentors to navigate the workplace, and when men fail to treat their female colleagues as equals, we need to call them out on it. We must make a conscious effort to overcome conditioning and take baby steps forward together.

Build relationships with potential mentors before you ask for their time. Professional women are particularly busy, so start by inviting them to coffee. Let them know that you admire their achievements and value their opinions—and see where it goes.

Mentorship means being open for growth. If you are struggling to find the right mentor, look to other resources. President Lincoln, for example, leveraged reading to learn about military leadership during the Civil War.

Consider formal programs in which prospective mentors have already volunteered their time. Explore your local Chamber of Commerce and online communities like Lean In for established mentorship programs. Heggie also suggests reaching out to people you admire on social platforms like LinkedIn.

Connect with Betty-Ann Heggie

Betty-Ann Heggie’s Website

Betty-Ann Heggie on Facebook

Betty-Ann Heggie on Twitter

Resources

Gender Physics: Unlock the Energy You Never Knew You Had to Get the Results You Want by Betty-Ann Heggie

“Analysis of Human Brain Structure Reveals that the Brain ‘Types’ Typical of Males Are Also Typical of Females, and Vice Versa” in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience

Lean In

Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead by Sheryl Sandberg

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