When genders shouldn’t mix

Sexual equality still doesn’t extend to the workplace or the training room, says the founder of Springboard Jenny Daisley

Unless women and men can learn how to develop themselves, the future of work and relationships and therefore communities and the world will grind to a halt. My experience is that they aren’t ready to do it in mixed groups.

Mixed gender personal development courses are not bringing about the massive shift that is needed for human beings to take on fully the responsibility for their development. Issues of gender get in the way.

Women have challenges and problems that men do not recognise, and men often do not recognise that they have challenges and problems that need to be addressed. Of course, that’s a sweeping generalisation, but think about it.

Through the Springboard and Navigator programmes, I have proved time and again that very few women and even less men are capable of developing themselves fully in a mixed gender environment.

I am not talking here about learning basic work skills. I am talking about people developing themselves as people – whether it is growing up and behaving as adults (at whatever age), overcoming earlier challenging parts of their lives or coping with the pace of change and the variety of activities that a person has to deal with simply to make their lives work today.

Women need to accept that the majority of them still have a long way to go to achieve real equality. Not every woman in the workplace will agree with this, but women have been oppressed.

Women, despite the Equal Pay Act and Sex Discrimination Act, have neither equal pay nor equal billing in the ranks of management and in jobs traditionally done by men.

Some women cannot or do not want to see the reality of the discrimination that they face. It may be too painful or challenging to contemplate doing something about it. Better just to accept the status quo. Easier to leave and set up her own business. Simpler now to have career first and children second and not to be in the running for top jobs.

Women, even at the top, still have overt issues about confidence, acceptability of their style and ways of doing things in a male dominated world of work.

The good news is that women’s motivation to work on their development is much stronger than men’s motivation. Women volunteer and in many cases pay to go to programmes designed to develop themselves as people.

Conversely, it’s no wonder that there are problems with boys in schools not working on their schoolwork. Where are their role models in terms of their fathers working on their development? Most men’s experiences of single gender training are management training courses, which were not specifically designed as a men’s personal development programme.

"No need to separate out the women from the men any more, we dealt with sexism last century." Not true, I say. We are only just beginning to accept the reality of the wonderful diversity in human life and in particular the richness of difference between how men and women think, how they feel and how they behave. Tomorrow’s people are people who can work on their own development, build working relationships and communities without gender getting in the way.

Do we need a Big Brother type programme about people in the working environment to prove it or have we seen enough to convince us that more work is needed?

I believe that there are masses of women and many men who are closet personal developers, who are just dying to come out and be recognised as the deep, possibly spiritual, sensitive people that they are.

To take their place as people whose destiny is to be visionaries for the better world that we can all live in. They would like to live honestly and be themselves with their faults and development needs as well as their shining strengths and positive qualities.

A few organisations are leading the way. Come out of the closet now and push yours to go further.


Jenny Daisley and Liz Willis run the Springboard Consultancy, Holwell East Down, Barnstaple, Devon EX32 4NZ, 01271 850828, e-mail: springboard@compuserve.com or visit their web site at: www.springboardconsultancy.com. They jointly developed the award winning Springboard Women’s Development Programme and this year were awarded European Women of Achievement Awards in the entrepreneur category for promoting pan-European understanding and inspiring others. They run the Navigator personal development programme for men and the Springboard women’s development programme.

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