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Gender & COVID - Part III: Working the 'Intentional Invisibility Syndrome' to your advantage

In my previous blog I spoke of privilege, the 'Invisible Advantage' and 'Intentional Invisibility'.

In the Pacific, as is the case across the globe, women are significantly under-represented in leadership positions in both political and organisational contexts. These contexts have been severely exacerbated by COVID-19 - meaning there are now, even less women in these leadership positions than there were before COVID... and if a little girl cannot 'see it', it is very unlikely she will aspire to 'be it' in the future.

As millenials (those of us born between 1981 and 1996), I think we are in a very unique position to influence this change, because of the uniqueness of our dates of birth. More on that in a later blog, as I don't want to take away from the current subject, but we are the generation that knows our traditions and questions it - picking from it, what makes sense to us the most and finding our own path.

This is how we can bridge the gaps we find in our working lives - and work with our cultures. In this case, how we as Pacific millenials and as women, work past our intentional invisibility and work this towards our advantage, as a woman.

To refresh ourselves on 'Intentional Invisibility', please read here.

By doing so and rather than heading towards some negative connotations, I thought we'd look at what Soren Kaplan speaks about in his book on 'Invisible Advantages' and encouraging the culture of innovation.

Kaplan's idea is to focus on specific areas holistically, as addressing one or two in isolation would not work.

So in response to my initial questions in part one of this series, of what we should be challenging (noting the #ChoosetoChallenge hashtag from IWD), and the COVID implications of not putting women at the centre of our recovery pathways post-pandemic, we should be asking ourselves the following questions, challenging the norms in these six sectors:

1. Leadership:

  • What can our leaders do to more explicitly promote innovation?

  • What symbols, stories and assumptions should leadership reinforce?

As a suggestion, given we need a start point, I think the inclusion of women in leadership and male gender champions supporting the narrative that women are also leaders, is one way to begin this conversation.