Critical Mass and the Influence of Women



Influence of Women

Justine sent me a fascinating YouTube video with a talk by Jay Newton-Small at the Commonwealth Club of California. She is a journalist working for Time and has written the book Broad Influence: How Women Are Changing the Way America Works. In the book she outlines the growing influence of women in our country. Following is the link to the video:

How Women Are Changing the Way America Works

In her talk, we learn women are gaining significant influence and numbers in government. For a variety of reasons it is faster in government (women vote) than it is in business. She notes that there is a critical mass of 20-25% which materially changes their influence and the way things are done. The changes are showing up in a variety of areas. For example, for the longest time only men were the subject of health studies. Now there are studies of women. Shockingly long overdue.

Gaining Parity

What is happening she is calling parity which seems a fair term for it. There was also an interesting exchange about the terms used for women. “Broad” of course has been one term and, in spite of its usually negative context, she said we could decide it was accurate since women bear children. I doubt it would be easy to change the loading. But she also pointed out that even the word female may have a negative connotation in some circles.

Just One Woman

Many years ago I noted that the inclusion of just one woman in a meeting changed the climate. Without a woman present the men often spent a lot of time stroking each other’s egos and talking sports. With a woman present I found more work was done. But evidently the 20-25% inclusion has a much deeper effect.

The talk was very informative and the book is surely highly detailed. We are making progress at last.

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