Will Women Shift Washington?

The 2018 Election cycle gave some of the most diverse and promising candidates of recent years.

The 2018 Election cycle gave some of the most diverse and promising candidates of recent years. Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar have become Texas' first-ever Latina congresswomen. Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first two Muslim women elected to Congress. Omar is also the first to wear a hijab and the first Somali-American woman in Congress. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is the youngest woman elected to Congress in US history.

This new wave of diversity represents a major opportunity to shift the culture in our government. It also represents a large challenge for our newly elected representatives; will they be forces of change that progress our culture? Or will they be forced to assimilate into our current cultural climate? At first, it seems like an easy answer. By and large, these people were elected because of their differences and the opportunity for change that they represent. However, we’ve seen frequently in today’s corporate world that while people are often hired because of their diverse backgrounds, they are forced to assimilate into a non-diverse corporate culture.

Let’s take, for example, the tendencies of men and women in the workforce. While men tend to excel in areas of independence, logic, action, focus, and quick decision making, women generally thrive in areas of collaboration, intuition, reflection and big picture vision. In an equal corporate culture, men and women have the opportunity to contribute their different skills in a way that provides a better climate for both the employees and the company. Unfortunately, we often mistake equality and sameness. Companies hire inclusively to reap the benefits of a diverse team, without commiting to a diverse corporate culture. This forces assimilation and ultimately mitigates the many contributions of diverse teams.

Throughout the years, we’ve done an extraordinary job of training women in how to adapt to a male dominated culture. Where we’ve failed is in training women how to alter the existing culture. When we teach women to alter their cultures we are able to fully realize the benefits of inclusion.  So will political newcomers, like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, be able to shift the dominant culture of Washington like the voters hoped?

Kristen Barnhardt is a freelance writer based in Central Florida focused on bringing a thought-provoking perspective to some of the most important issues of our time.

 

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