Leadership Bias May Have Nothing to Do With Gender

Panelists Dr. Natalie Rasgon and Teressa Moore Griffin

The bias may sit more firmly around perception and expectation. When The Corporate State Vancouver Summit’s panel on “Leadership: Brain Research or Bias?” took center stage, so did Dr. Natalie Rasgon, Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science, Stanford University. According to Dr. Rasgon, the significant difference between men’s brains and women’s brains is weight, not size. 

She went on to suggest that although women leaders’ brains may be more attuned to verbal stimulation, and a man’s to visual, the greater difference in their leadership rests in perception rather than innate difference.

Fiona Macfarlane

The “nature/nurture” debate continued with Katie Benner, Writer for Fortune Magazine moderating, but not without some contrary points of view. Fiona Macfarlane, Managing Partner, Western Canada and Chief Inclusiveness Officer for Ernst & Young LLP, echoed the bias theme. “Everyone has their own biases. Your environment shapes and determines your bias. If you aren’t aware of your bias, it inhibits your ability to select and recruit top talent.”

Katie Benner gets the conversation going

Teressa Moore Griffin, author of LIES that Limit, asked that we be candid enough to think about ways we, as women leaders, subtly work against other women. “Because we do it.” She said. “Sometimes we do it in an interest of self-survival, so that the “boys” will let us stay in the sandbox.” She warned against the “reflex” response that some women have to criticize a woman as soon as she rises to the top and leads an organization or group.

Sue Hutchison

Sue Hutchison, SVP  and Head of Customer Value Management, Retail Banking & Wealth Management at HSBC Bank Canada, roused the room with equally provocative ideas about expected behavior for women leaders.  She gave “expected” the kibosh, asserting she herself didn’t follow expected behavior. Sue endorsed speaking up, voicing contrary opinions, building teams that question the status quo, and pushing innovation.

Summit Photos by Rosa Tang

Panelist Janet Wood offers her point of view


Categories: Leadership, Perception


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