March is Women’s History Month, a time when we recognize and learn about the impact women have had on the world throughout history. To kick the month off, we celebrated International Women’s Day on March 8; a day about recognizing the achievements of women and also how far we still have to go.
As it so happens (coincidence?) CLCI LIVE and International Women’s Day fell on the same day so Brooke Adair Walters (MCPC), Jerome LeDuff Jr (MCLC), Anthony Lopez (MCPC), Lisa Finck (ACC), and our new administrative assistant, Jen Long (MCPC), decided to celebrate by discussing why women are natural-born leaders.
Genders in all their Splendor
Anytime we talk about gender, we recognize that it is a social construct and any quality associated with a particular gender has more to do with societal expectations and stereotypes than any innate ability one might have.
For example, women throughout history have experienced the pressure to become nurturers. We’ve been told that we’re here to become mothers and take care of those around us. Because of this societal pressure, we then view qualities such as compassion and empathy as feminine qualities, even though our masculine coaches here exhibit those qualities just as much as our feminine and non-binary coaches do.
A corporate study from 2019-2021 found that female members of management are viewed as more empathic by their team than male members of management. 31% of respondents felt that their female leadership provides emotional support as opposed to the 19% for male leadership. The scale was much closer on generally checking in on their team’s wellbeing, where 61% of female leadership was found to do so compared to 54% of male leadership. While these “soft skills” are more prevalent in women, they are also skills all leaders should have. If we’re reporting to someone, we need them to be able to listen to us, give us empathy and compassion, and support us when needed. Who wants a boss who can’t do these things?
Why do women dominate the coaching profession?
Even though management fields are dominated by (white) men, it’s really these feminine qualities that make for a good leader. Perhaps this is why the life coaching field is dominated by women. Globally, women make up 70% of life coach practitioners. In North America alone, 75% of the field is made up of people identifying as women (ICF). When we looked at what attracts women to the coaching space, we questioned whether it was a necessity given how corporate America is full of glass ceilings and boys clubs and where the gender pay gap is still showing female-presenting full-time employees making 84% of what their male-presenting counterparts make (PEW Research). Women looking to move ahead in their careers could view the corporate ladder as a dead end and look instead to entrepreneurship for their success. And where better to start your business than one that utilizes skills you’ve been developing your entire life already?
Women could also be dominating the life coaching field simply due to gender roles. Society has made us nurturers, caretakers, and teachers—roles predicated on compassion, empathy, and listening skills. When asking ourselves what skills we have and what we can do with them, anyone who feels empowered in their soft skills is more inclined to look into coaching as a career choice.
Not only do women dominate the coaching profession, they are also the majority of coaching clientele. Women are 11% more inclined to seek out therapy or coaching from a professional. We all know the stereotype that men don’t ask for directions when they’re lost. Unfortunately, men have been prescribed the role of the person who doesn’t need help, doesn’t have feelings, doesn’t cry. Women are the ones who’ve been allowed to dive into their emotions. We can ask for help, cry, and feel without seeming weak to the world around us.
Fortunately, with the recognition of gender bias, we are all given more freedom to break out of these stereotypical gender roles and explore our own identities. We’re normalizing masculine people expressing their feelings and feminine people taking on previously masculine qualities such as strength and vigor. The lines are blurring and we are all benefitting from the opportunity to question our own identities.
So What attracts men to the coaching profession?
One area of coaching that men have been most present in is executive coaching. Life coaching itself started in the executive space due to the clear delineation of executive coaching from therapy. ICF is still heavily invested in the executive space compared to other coaching sectors.
Since executives are predominantly men, it is easy to understand why men become executive coaches; but what else attracts men to coaching? For CLCI’s Social Media Master and Tech Support Manager, Jerome LeDuff Jr., it was the focus of empathy that attracted him to the coaching profession. Having been raised around four sisters and countless other women in his family, he’s been taught empathy his entire life. It’s a core value of his even in his working life.
Coaching is also an attractive field to men who have the soft skills down and want to start their own business or phase out of the corporate world. On the surface, men are quite successful in coaching as some of the highest paid coaches in the world are men (think Tony Robbins). While it relies on soft skills that we associate as feminine, men have clearly found great success in the coaching field.
This is just one example of how gender roles are these limiting structures defined by society that we don’t have to follow. CLCI’s Chief Strategy Officer, Brooke Adair Walters, has always defied the limits placed on her. When someone says “You can’t,” she responds with…
Having identified as a tomboy growing up due to the strong influence from her father, Brooke developed many masculine skills early in life and didn’t embrace her femininity until much later. Brooke is a great example of how we can take what we want from either side of the gender spectrum and adapt it into our own lives. Just because society has tried to push us into a box, doesn’t mean we have to live in it.
The Women Who Inspire Us
As the final piece of recognizing women, we want to shout out the women who’ve inspired us along the way.
CLCI CEO Lisa Finck has always admired Hedy Lamarr for her strength and smarts. Hedy was an actress who later developed a radio guidance system used in World War II and which is part of the foundation behind today’s Bluetooth.
Jerome, who is surrounded by admirable women, recognizes his sister’s perseverance in life. CLCI Project Director and Copywriter, Anthony, admires his mom’s strength in her commitment to supporting her family through an MS diagnosis, along with Joan Didion who also battled MS, and Michelle Obama.
Newly certified CLCI Coach and Admin, Jen, is inspired by her mother and grandmother in her personal life along with the late Joan Rivers, who paved the way for female comedians. Brooke has also had many female role models starting with her mother, a successful businesswoman, and her great-grandmother, who earned 2 PhDs at a time when educated women weren’t very common. She has also always had female mentors to inspire and advise her. As far as famous women, she admires Marie Curie and Madonna, both women who weren’t afraid to be themselves in the face of adversity.
We want to thank all the women out there who inspire us day in and day out and we challenge you to get out there and be the inspiration for the next generation of women and men to come!
Lisa Finck, Brooke Adair Walters, Jerome LeDuff Jr, Anthony Lopez, and Jen Long!
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