HEY LADIES. WHAT IS OUR BASEBALL EQUIVALENT?
Don’t get me wrong. I love baseball. I can’t tell you how many times I have teared up watching stories about little boys (and, occasionally, little girls) learning life lessons about discipline, teamwork, courage – how to take one on the chin and get back into the game. Silliness starts to dissipate. Demeanors change – they walk with a new stride. Little Leaguers get on a personal growth path with the support of coaches, parents – the whole community. They begin to see themselves as a part of something big and they feel appreciated for it. Baseball is way more than a game. They learn that rules matter.
YOO-HOO. But let’s be real. Although some girls are participating, it is predominantly a male enterprise. Just check out the Baseball Hall of Fame and count the women. And that is okay – I am truly happy for everyone involved. But I have one caveat. I could be happier if we celebrated women’s strengths with equal vigor.
Here are a few questions to begin the conversation.
- What is our culture doing to prepare our girls for their future as women? (Over and above education – just like sports is in addition to education for boys.)
- What attributes do you think girls should have mastered before adulthood? Perhaps being competitive is not as high on the list as it is for boys?.
- Boys see players on the courts and fields. They know their stories and their stats. Where do girls see women operating at full strength?
- Baseball teaches that perseverance, strength and teamwork are important. What are girls learning about their value?
OUR CULTURE NEEDS BALANCE. In my OD career, I often used the Myers-Briggs tool to help people work together more effectively in organizations. (Here’s a link if you want to learn more about the MBTI.) People have preferences – like handedness. I am right-handed but can use both hands. The same is true about our criteria for action. The continuum axis goes from pure logic and rules-based decisions – to – context and the impact on people-based decisions. (In MBTI, this is the T – F dimension.)
CLASSIC EXAMPLE OF THE DIFFERENCE. You are in a meeting with an agenda. A new topic has come up that seems to have unleashed a real emotional reaction from several people. Do you ignore that reaction and stick to the agenda – or do you reprioritize to address the team’s sense of safety?
GENDERED DEMOGRAPHICS. It’s interesting to note that two-thirds of men prefer rules-based decisions and two-thirds of women prefer to focus on the impact on people. Nature? Nurture? Yes.
BUT, SUSAN, WHAT DOES THIS HAVE TO DO WITH BASEBALL? Sports culture is all about rules. Winning and losing. This competitive ethos dominates our political and financial landscapes.
IS IT TIME TO DEVELOP AND CELEBRATE CONNECTION LEAGUERS? What if we could begin to leverage girls’ and women’s natural preference for community? For social needs? What if our culture invested as much into leadership training for girls as it does for sports programs for boys?