Collaboration and the me generation

15 11 2012

There are some facts that are taken as read; men are better at parking than women, women are better multi-taskers than men; women are better listeners and so on. Amongst the list is the fact that women are better collaborators than men.

A recent talk made me think. The gist of the argument goes like this.

In the workplace women often take the jobs in what can broadly be called the care sector. Women are nurses, care workers, support workers and assistants. It is only natural, therefore, that when they seek self-employment they start businesses in these areas; becoming therapists, beauticians, health and well-being specialists. The common theme in these businesses is the focus on the self.

How do I look? How do I feel? Or rather, How do I feel? How do I look?

This is bringing the focus narrower and narrower onto the individual.

It is interesting to think on this dynamic.

Women in apparently nurturing businesses, based on caring skills but working to promote a very individual perspective.

Women’s magazines are full of images of women who we are encouraged to admire not for how they behave but for how they look. And these photographs of painfully thin catwalk models presented as perfect body forms are creating all sorts of problems as women try to make their bodies fit that body image. Again we are being encouraged by women to look inwards, to look at our bodies.

And massage and spa days all focus on the self. The advertisements all encourage women “treat yourself” “you deserve it”. Again the focus is on the self. What can you do for your self.

This focus on the self seems to me to be the opposite of collaborative thinking.

Far better to look outwards and see what we can do for each other don’t you think?

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