How to Stop ‘Conscious Bias’ in Women’s Inclusion into Leadership

Is the BBC’s fact-checking failing? So another wonderful woman became the president of an African country – Ethiopia this time, Sahle-Work Zewde has become the president of Ethiopia. According to this BBC’s article, she is Africa’s only female President.

Really? What about these female presidents:

  • Mauritius’ – Ameenah Gurib-Fakim, who has been president since 2015.
  • Central African Republic – Catherine Samba-Panza who served as President of Central African Republic from 2014 -16.
  • Liberia – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia who served from 2006 to 2018.

Going by my short research, In fact, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the first and indeed the longest-serving African female president. Yes, she got into power in 2006.

So how many African women need to become president for each of them to stop being the first female president of Africa BBC? From a Diversity and inclusion point of view, I see a lot of ‘unconscious bias’ or maybe it even unconscious bias. It is Africa right, there is no need to research let us say what we have got to say.

The Real Self-Inclusion Issue

While the need to show that Africa is moving forward is so strong that people are blatantly biased in their reporting, it is not even the big question here. The question we have to ask ourselves is; when is being a woman and a president, whether black, pink, yellow or any other colour stop being such ‘big’ news?

Not all women aspire to be heads of state or even want to be. One thing for sure is every woman wants the opportunity to make a difference to make the world a better place. We can only achieve this if we increase the awareness of the education required for more women to feel encouraged and confident to show their strength and genius to go for those positions that have been seen as predominantly male.

Promoting Self-Inclusion for Women

We need to provide more empowerment and resilience building training. We must promote more women to step up with intention. As I read Tara Mohr’s book ‘Playing Big’, I realised how easy it has been for most of us women to talk ourselves out of taking the leap and going for the positions we want. Instead, we will we need more qualifications, time, and any other excuses we can find to stop ourselves from being uncomfortable. Yes, there are barriers on the way, but if some women have done it, sure these positions of power obtainable if we want them.

Another crucial aspect to this topic is that women need to be true cheerleaders of fellow women. We have come a long way to where women who have for managed to climb the ladder looked down on fellow women; there is still much work to be done. I see part of the problem as the insistence that women who are in lower positions find themselves a mentor. I have nothing against mentorship programmes.   The issue for me is that sometimes this emphasis can lead to dependency and even conflict of interest. Sometimes mentors can be very busy people and what happens if the mentor is not available? It is not like a coach or therapist who you have paid and so they have a certain level of commitment.

The mentor and mentee relationship work better if it comes organically and grows from belief and trust. Imagine someone coming to you and saying “can you please be my mentor?” Well, a mentor for what? Any professional, helpful person will take that proposal with a pinch of salt unless they know the person really well and have time in their diary to take on someone else. Why?  Because it can be challenging if the two don’t find synergy. The mentor may not be in the position to support person in the right way. Where mentorship work; is if they grow naturally from friendships, working together, or as part of someone’s life initially.

The better option is to ask for advisers when you need a particular help one of these people may one day grow become a mentor. These advisers will be cheerleaders as well. Alternatively, high a coach to help you move forward to your towards the goal. A therapist is good too, they will help you move away from some of the self-limiting beliefs and past issues that may be holding you back.

It is this kind of encouragement that can help women around the world to push forward even in the ‘guarded’ world. With the true empowerment of the ‘underdog’ or the excluded, the world will move forward positively.
So let us get us some more ‘first female presidents’, oh! scrap that… let us get more women to do what they want and stop with the conscious and unconscious biases. If you want to learn more about female presidents, go here.
If you want to read more:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-459

A full list of Female Heads of Government

Want to learn more about me and my work? Visit me at www.aminachitembo.com

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2 Comments

  • Ashley Alemayehu October 28, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    I thought the same thing as I read this, particularly with how influential Ellen Sirleaf Johnson was during her terms. While President Sahle-Work may be the only female African head of state for the moment, it surely won’t be that way for long.

    Reply
    • Amina Chitembo November 3, 2018 at 10:19 pm

      Thanks Ashley, it is not a such a shock that they don’t really care. News has lost so much integrity.

      Reply

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