9 March 2018 - We are all Wonderwomen

Hot on the heels of International Women's Day yesterday, for which I celebrated with the fine ladies and gents associated with Women In Tech, I wanted to share another instalment of the workshop I attended recently, lead by Eve Poole. 

Eve's talk was driven around key symbols that just happened to be in our goody bags. Today I'm going to talk about another two of those items, the box of rhubarb tea and the chocolate coin.

Lets start with a good cup of tea and a chat. And this essentially is what the reference is about. The flavour of rhubarb for the tea in particular relates to when film extras are pretending to have a conversation with another in the background while the scene is being shot. The extras mouth 'rhubarb' at each other to form meaningful mouth movements. 

Women find it much easier to sit with fellow ladies and talk through when situations seem troublesome or complex. Admit it, how many times have you sought female company to talk about 'that guy' who just seems to be 'messing you around'? Commercially, it has been proved that female CEO's perform better than their male counterparts as they de-risk situations and talk over problems before they escalate. 

We find our natural response to stress is to work through the problem verbally and this term is called 'Tend and Befriend' and can be tracked through our evolutionary psychology. Men would fight the problem with flight or flight (a beast attacking the area) while the women would tend to the children and befriend by telling stories to keep the mood positive and calm. 

But what's that got to do with International Women's Day you ask, well, let me explain. During the session yesterday we received a talk from Salesforce Supermums on how they came together to help mums back into the work environment using Salesforce as their key skill as it offered the flexibility to work anytime, anywhere. It also starts to reinforce the 'tend and befriend' theory. Women came together to communicate the problem and a solution was found to bring a whole new flexible workforce into an industry sector crying out for more resource. A win-win for all.

And now for the chocolate coin. Eve used this to represent the fact that she attended the Lucy Clayton Finishing School and one task was to grip a 50 pence piece between her knees and keep it clamped in place while she attempted to get in and out of various cars. It was to teach her to negotiate cars carefully while maintaining her modesty. 

The main aspect of finishing school was to teach manners. Most women have this as a skill as we are conditioned to ensure that anyone coming into a new environment is made to feel comfortable. Take for example, the company receptionist (usually a woman) who, upon your arrival will ask if you'd had a good journey and if you'd like something to drink. 

This small gesture is all about emotional intelligence for which women are naturally programmed to do and seems quite a leap still for some men. The small gesture of making another feel comfortable or acknowledging their presence can go a long way and in the world of business, the 'charm offensive' can be a true strength. 

This rang true also last night when we were invited to share moments when we have worked on our Salesforce Orgs while in a unusual location. Lots of ladies piped up to share which was great but I noticed that one of the men also wanted to contribute and quite unusually, wasn't getting a chance. I stepped in, highlighted the individual to the group and this gave him the opportunity to speak. It was Keir Bowden and this small gesture made him realise that for women, the ability to be heard can be a challenge, and as peers we should do all we can to make a positive difference. Thanks Keir, you're a true ally. 

So, whether you are channeling your emotional intelligence by realising that one of your friends needs to feel more comfortable in life and helping them with a tend and befriend scenario by taking tea (fizz) to hear their problems then, as a female, you are using your natural physiological make-up to do this. As for men, feel free to grab a cuppa (glass) and lean in. We can all benefit from this. 


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