When I was little I remember hearing about a wonderful female scientist who lived in the African jungle studying chimpanzees; her story intrigued me. At the recent Emerging Women Live Conference in San Francisco, I had the immense privilege of being in her presence, watching and listening to this remarkable woman; Dr Jane Goodall.
On the first evening of the conference, she relayed a story which has stayed with me because of the deep discomfort and awkwardness I felt throughout the conference. I was surrounded by a room full of women—a substantial number of women—which was somewhat perplexing for me. The story she shared was that of the Native American notion of the great eagle’s wings. For the great eagle to fly high, strong and true, it needs both wings fully extended and equally strong and supple. One wing represents the masculine, the other the feminine. I loved this visualisation and symbolism. Between the pleasure of seeing Dr Goodall and receiving this story—I was grateful for this gift.
Before I share my specific experience and thoughts I need to provide some background into me, so that these thoughts have some context to land within. From a young age, I have always been interested in things that were naturally more male dominated. I studied biomedical engineering at university, I flew gliders, before starting Huddle I worked in the defense, automotive and technology sectors, even my tennis partner was a guy! I have a son, two step sons and a beautiful supportive husband. I have always been surrounded by more men than women and that has been my happy experience of life.
The conference was the first time in my almost 40 years of living that I experienced the presence of 525 women in the one room. I cannot even begin to describe what that felt like, in fact, I am still processing and integrating. As the proceedings went on and we had the absolute honour and pleasure of listening to some very impressive women, the likes of Brené Brown and Elizabeth Gilbert (what a gift!) something dawned on me. If we create environments where women in leadership, or the emergence of women, is discussed in an all female environment, are we not creating the opposite polarity of the current situation?
I shared my thoughts with my wonderful and enterprising husband Cam and he told me about his famous rubber band theory. He suggested that perhaps it is ok for this to be so extremely and exclusively female oriented because the pendulum is currently so far on the masculine side, that we need to give it quite a shove so that it can find it’s resting place in equilibrium.
I guess my feelings were also borne from experiencing the knowledge and topics that were shared in the room; such important insight, and deep research and experiences that ought to be heard all over the world. These are important topics, not just for women but for all people. For all humans. There is strengths in acknowledging and leveraging difference, this provides pathways to answer the work through the many complex challenges that face humanity and the Earth today. Though continuing to highlight the differences, such is between men and women, or using the abbreviation LGBTQIA as one speaker was doing when talking about diversity, all with the intention of being inclusive though doing it in a way that highlighted difference.
We are all people, people with the tendencies of leadership towards the masculine or the feminine, with our own unique choices of who we love and how we love. We are a single species of human sharing a single planet called Earth. Let’s acknowledge that many different aspects of emergence needs to occur for us to reverse the damage we are doing to ourselves and our planet, and I know that the role of ‘the feminine’ has a huge part to play. This emergence of feminine power, shouldn’t be perceived exclusively for women.