In my self-directed studies, I conducted an examination of current literature, exploring women’s leadership experience, and the barriers they face, and identified five potential community partners to work with as part of my capstone project.
The focus of my capstone will be to identify what happens to women’s leadership trajectory after they are disrupted. I want to ascertain any positive ways they moved forward because of that disruption, and identify the resources or support that may or may not have existed for them. I intend to specifically target the demographic of women that are aged 42-65, as I believe that there is an intersection between ageism and sexism that is worth exploring.
I have identified five local community groups that I hope to work with. I have chosen these groups because of a number of criteria; the foremost being that they have identified the development of women’s leadership and economic opportunities as a priority through programming, research, and/or community activism. The other considerations I took into account are: they have existing relationships amongst themselves, are recognized for being important voices from within the community, have access to the networks of women that I hope to reach, and at this stage of my understanding, represent a somewhat diverse network of users, which will provide my research with access to a potential audience that is non-homogenous in their demographics and life experiences.
I intend to engage in qualitative research that utilizes surveys. I also intend to capture the stories of these women's narratives via interviews. Having been recently introduced to the methodology of narrative inquiry, I intend to further investigate this approach.
The focus of my capstone will be significant for these partners as it may potentially identify gaps and opportunities to further support women, their leadership development, and their economic independence. I further anticipate that this information will not only spur further programming, research and community activism opportunities by these groups independently in support of women, but will allow for further purposeful collaboration amongst these potential partners.
In The change process: Why change? (2009) Beckhard and Harris ask the reader to address the fundamental condition that one is witnessing and ask why there is a need for change (p. 689).
In McKinsey's report on Advancing Women's Equality in Canada (2017) the authors state that by addressing the issue of advancing women's equality,
Canada could add $150 billion in incremental GDP in 2026 or see a 0.6 percent increase of annual GDP growth. That’s 6 percent higher than business-as-usual GDP growth forecasts over the next decade. Put another way, this figure is equivalent to adding a new financial-services sector to the economy. (Devillard et al., 2017)
I believe that according to Beckhard and Harris’ work, this is still just a symptom (p. 698).
Most compelling is the fundamental reason as to why this is an important focus and realm for change, which is because accelerating women's equality in Canada is a "moral and social imperative," (Devillard et al., 2017).
The strengths that I will bring to this work and to my collaboration partners is the almost 20 years of experience I have in stakeholder engagement in professional settings; this is also a strong element of my current work. I look forward to furthering my best practices with an intentional systems change lens, and utilizing many of the tools shared by Stroh in Systems Thinking for Social Change for this work.
Beyond my expertise in facilitation and engagement, I bring an ability to see the intersection of experiences and bring those to the forefront for consideration. Lastly, I bring an awareness of my existing bias and leading hypothesis, which will ensure that I bring a critical lens to my assumptions, and to test them vigorously.