Women are not Leaders!

After so many years of learning and practicing Safety and Health at my workplace, I am looking forward to getting my Green Book. It is a license which gives me the power to make recommendations, proposals, write articles, enforce laws and most importantly make my workplace a safe place to work.

In order to continue practice as a Safety and Health officer, I am required to attend trainings to complete my yearly CEP points (Continuous Education Programme). The last two days, I attended training in Sabah and definitely gain a lot of knowledge. My only regret is the comment made by one of the Facilitator:

As Safety Officers we have to be efficient and effective. He explains that being efficient means doing the thing right while being effective is doing the right thing. He later describes that being effective is defined as being a leader and being efficient is defined as being a Manager. The example given however took me by surprise. A woman is more suitable to be a manager as they are very particular, ie the report must be typed in blue, font 14 and in pink colour. A man would definitely be suitable as a leader. I shouted immediately “NO”. And he ends his rambling with “that is why we are here to change that”.

Too late.  The hand clap and ‘yes’ remarks have already indicated the perception is true.

As a Facilitator, he has the responsibility to stay true to his profession, professionalism and values & ethics. One of the values a trainer have to have is they have to seek to understand the nature of social diversity and oppression with respect to race, ethnicity, national origin, colour, sex, sexual orientation, age, marital status, political belief, religion, and mental or physical disability. Obviously he has failed miserably here. He needs to update his “Train the Trainer” skills.

I have never thought that as a woman I cannot be what I wanted to be. It is not new to hear negative remarks or comments on women competency but it hurts every time. It hurts that I know a lot of women out there who actually does very well as leaders. Let’s not discuss about Hillary Clinton, Margaret Thatcher, Benazir Bhutto or even Queen Elizabeth. Let’s discuss about the Human Resource Manager who handles 3,000 employees; the EHS Manager who actually handles the safety & health management system and the Facility Department; the Finance Manager who handles millions of ringgit without missing a cent monthly; the Safety Officer who is also a Scaffolder or the Program Manager who manages a construction project effectively. Women should be judged by their performance and achievements. Stop generalizing and stop all assumptions.

Let me test you. I love the below scenario. Hopefully you have not read or done this before:

**A man and his son are in a serious car accident. The father is killed, and the son is rushed to the emergency room. Upon arrival, the attending doctor looks at the child and gasps, “This child is my son!” Who is the doctor?

Did you get the answer in a blink of an eye? If you don’t, it is because you have made an assumption that all men are doctors. The doctor is obviously the boy’s mother. Years ago when I was asked the question, I struggled to find the answer. We have been brought up with images and memories of a male doctor.

We have to change our built-in perception and “teach” our memories to change. The facilitator could have helped to change the participants view by just treating everyone as an individual. We have a responsibility for now and the future generation…for the sake of his children and mine. We have to give equal opportunity to all.

And by the way, we love pink. It made us stand out.

**Quoted from “Blink” by Malcolm Gladwell, pg 124.

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