The Proposal is a new movie featuring Sandra Bullock as a rather pushy business woman. The Women’s Business Examiner decried this stereotype of the pushy female boss in light of “the difficult tight rope that we walk every day between being too nice and too pushy.”
But the real find in this article was a link to a recent Catalyst study called “The Double-Bind Dilemma for Women in Leadership: Damned if You Do, Doomed if You Don’t”. The study found that “Because they are often evaluated against a “masculine” standard of leadership, women are left with limited and unfavorable options, no matter how they behave and perform as leaders.” These unfavorable options are outlined as three “predicaments,” which place women leaders in a double-bind.
My favorite of the predicaments is the first one, which seems especially prevalent in the Church. [My comments in brackets.]
* When women act in ways that are consistent with gender stereotypes [i.e. when they act like women], they are viewed as less competent leaders.
* When women act in ways that are inconsistent with such stereotypes [i.e. when they are unemotional, business-like, dare we say “tough”], they are considered unfeminine.
But requiring women to lead like men is just one small part of the problem, in my opinion. Today’s “Leadership” culture attempts to shoehorn every type of spiritual gifting into one style of leadership. “Leadership” is now both the narrow gate (there’s only one way to do it) and the wide road (everyone is required to be that kind of leader). Very little is written about encouraging different leadership styles based on personality and gifting. And these, I would think, are two key characteristics that should set apart Christian leaders as members of the body of Christ.