The conventional wisdom is that women and men have different approaches to work, with men more likely to take risks and take charge, and women more interested in working together and creating consensus. We at NCWU would suggest that we are actually socialized and rewarded for performing to those expectations of gender, rather than any of that being inherent qualities based on one’s sex. Regardless whether it is inherent or learned behavior, it does that seem that women generally are more likely than men to use collaboration to accomplish a task. But just because women may favor that model, does it mean we all know how to collaborate successfully? Not necessarily (which I would suggest argues against it being inherent behavior, but that’s not the point of this post….).
If you’ve ever worked with a group of people to accomplish a task or solve a problem, you may have had these experiences:
- Some are more prepared than others at your meetings
- Some put in more work than others (and others may take credit they shouldn’t)
- There are frequent misunderstandings – of purpose, of responsibilities, of tasks to be completed
- Disagreements – over tactics, sharing work, etc – can derail the work
- Personality conflicts and power struggles can sink the whole collaboration
While collaboration can be difficult work, we believe that none of these obstacles is insurmountable as long as everyone approaches the collaboration in good faith and genuinely wants it to work. And at the NC Women Matter conference, we came down on the side of collaboration as the best way to move forward with our work for a better North Carolina for all women and families. And our goal for the conference was to give participants the tools, education and networks to make those collaborations, especially at the local level, happen.
Our morning workshop on collaboration, led by activists Erin Byrd, Gloria De Los Santos, Ivanna Gonzalez and Mary Klenz helped us understand how we can get past the common pitfalls and build intentional, vibrant communities in which we can maximize the skills and creativity of everyone joining us in this work; because we need all of us to create a more just and equal society for all. With afternoon sessions covering issues such as reproductive justice, immigration, voting rights, ERA (equal rights amendment) and economic justice and security, we were able to introduce many participants to issues and concerns they weren’t as familiar with, and show them how those issues could tie into their issues. And throughout the day, we had many opportunities to meet fellow activists from across the state (and even some out-of-state activists, with Business and Professional Women (BPW) joining us as an extension of their national meeting in Greensboro) to share ideas and form more networks.
It was our largest NC Women Matter conference yet! We thank all of you who have joined us and our partners every year, and those of you who have just found us. We hope to continue in this spirit of collaboration as we move forward creating a diverse and robust women’s movement in North Carolina.
Tara Romano, President, NCWU