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There's Something in the Water

How second-generation gender bias makes it difficult for women leaders to thrive

What’s the Solution?

In the case of the dying salmon, wildlife managers discovered that, for a variety of reasons, the temperature of the river had risen above what was safe for the salmon population. By releasing additional cold water from a reservoir in northern Idaho, they were able to adjust the water in such a way as to make it hospitable for the salmon once again.

So, how do we adjust the water of the church, making it a hospitable environment for all called to serve the church? These ideas are helped along by the research of Kolb, Ibarra, and Ely.

1. Take the temperature of the water.

In partnership with other women and men, spend time evaluating the culture of your church or denomination. Identify areas in which second-generation gender bias might be at work. Consider how you might make actionable steps and encourage those in leadership, through kind and Christ-like conversation, to partner with you in making changes to the culture.

2. Embrace your identity as a leader and get to work.

The water may still be too warm, but there is work to do. Explore your gifts and graces, and don’t count out what might not seem like “typical” female characteristics. You are designed in a unique way in order to bless the church and contribute to the mission of God as only you can. Let your God-given calling and purpose be your guide, rather than a need to prove yourself to others.

3. Get creative.

Think outside the box, both in how you seek out mentors and in how you negotiate work arrangements. Who says a mentoring relationship has to be in person? Or that a group of peers can’t serve as a mentoring unit, lifting up, challenging, and encouraging one another? When a potential job doesn’t seem to fit with family commitments, what practical solutions can you suggest to keep that door of opportunity open? I have worked both remotely so my kids could play or nap, and I have hauled a pack-n-play and toy bags into my office. I have taken mornings off for park visits and worked after bedtime instead. It’s possible. Make the offer.

January30, 2018 at 8:00 AM

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