Last night the Jellyhaus team went to an event at the New Players Theatre,  London;  ‘Not Just a Pretty Face’.  Part of the ‘See You Next Tuesday’ festival,  an initiative belonging to the wider V-Day charity which campaigns to prevent violence against women and girls and organised in conjunction with Funny Women and Candied Thinking.

The evening was designed to bring together experts, interested parties, campaigners and business leaders.

The recent financial crisis has caused us to question the staid norm of leadership and its methods,  outcomes and ingrained symptoms,  moving toward questions of:
What kind of leadership is required to overcome the challenges we face today?
How can feminine values and behaviours make a difference?
What does the world need from us and what are we going to do about it?

In recent years,  the prominence of female participation on Directors Boards,  in leading roles and in management positions across the UK,  Europe and the US has grown exponentially.  Driven both by a change in operations with a larger focus on knowledge services & creativity,  increases in female academic success and a shakeup of bureaucratic agenda,  women represent both a massive opportunity for growth of GDP and also a chance to bring new ideals,  ways of working and concepts to the company table.

Kicking the evening off with a passionate speech about our unique opportunity as women in business,  Dr Linda Papadopoulos,  a leading counselling psychologist in the UK,  outlined the format of the evening.  She made it clear that this is where we could,  and should,  air our views,  voice our opinions and get support from a captive audience, all keen to learn and progress change.  As an audience we then had the choice of where we wanted to spend our discussion time:  Entrepreneurship;  Environment; Social Policy;  Media or Culture.  Based on our experience of trends and our everlasting zest to know more we headed for the ‘culture’ group,  not least because this was headed by Dr Malcolm Evans,  a leading semiotician and brand consultant in the UK.
Sitting amongst a collection of women from a variety of fields including criminology,  marketing,  linguistics and the media,  our discussions questioned qualities of femininity and masculinity as opposed to the male and female debate.  Encouraged by Malcolm and decided as a group,  we left the stereotypical male: female skill comparison behind and took our discussion to a higher level.  Should our energy and focus be more about reaching a platform of peace and reconciliation between the sexes and celebrating our differences than the old and over worked diatribe of the past?  An interesting and worthy question in my opinion.

The discussion lasted the full 45 minutes allowed by the evening and the objective in conclusion was to summarise three key points which Malcolm could bring to the front to discuss with the rest of the audience on our behalf.

Having had our discussion,  some tea and a rather yummy cake,  courtesy of Wendy May Cakes,  we re-grouped and had the opportunity to listen to what the others had been chatting about.
The experts in their field took it in turns to showcase their three ‘key’ points covering issues ranging from the distortion of feminine values,  through to whether we should actually address issues of power,  control and social classes rather than gender.  The topics were broad and challenging and it was agreed that a key issue brought up by one delegate was something we would all take away from the evening:  she went to the evening with a pre-conceived determination to talk to her daughter when she got home about everything she had learnt.  What the evening had taught her was how important it was she told her son,  something often overlooked and yet vital if we are going to challenge the ingrained societal norm.  What was clear is that this forum had facilitated a wide and varied discussion,  giving people the opportunity to put their views and experiences out there and learn from their peers.  Where we go from here remains to be seen,  the fact that an event such as this has not only been organised but also proven to be very popular is an encouraging result.  It would be a shame to waste the emotive and positive energy which was created last night.

An interesting, challenging and useful event for a worthwhile cause,  the ‘Not Just a Pretty Face’ evening was just that:  a community of intelligent,  passionate and experienced women who came together to meet,  eat,  learn and hopefully grow.

At each decade in our history we have seen a form of feminism ever since the rise of the suffragists and suffragettes,  our ladies of political equality.  As we’re leaving the ‘noughties’,  a decade where our eyes were opened to the wider,  global context of female suppression and freedom,  we have seen how not only gender,  but how culture and geographical location contribute to female opportunity,  or lack of it.  Being exposed to the horrors of honour killings and stories of female genital mutilation has changed the dynamic of feminist perception.  Moving into the ‘twenty-teens’ maybe what we are witnessing is a form of ‘grown-up’ feminism that is comfortable to both genders.  A feminism which has put away the colouring book and stopped having tantrums,  into one which oozes sophistication,  control and etiquette in the face of diversity and challenge.  Aligned with ‘Womenomics’,  a term coined by The Future Laboratory,  feminism for the ‘teens’ is more about what feminine qualities can contribute to the economy,  whether administered by male or female actors.  Linked to Daniel Pink’s book “A Whole New Mind: Why Right Brainers will Rule the Future”,  typically labelled feminine values of trust,  collaboration,  creativity and the ability to tell a story are those values now in demand.  In alignment with a tough economic climate and the need to do things better than before,  this is an introduction for all of us.