One of The MissRepresentation “Assignments” to Help Women Support Women
As women it is so important to encourage and motivate and to support each other. Too often we are put in a position of competing against each other. Take for example the Time magazine article with the title “Are you Mom enough?” This article, even though it was written by a woman, pitted women against each other.
I would hazard to guess that the competition that is fostered among women stems from a male-dominated society that leaves little, if any, room for women in power, or women who achieve high status. Women know that their chances of being successful or of getting a position are less when competing against a man; however, when competing against a woman, one still has a fighting chance. By eliminating the weakest of contenders, then the only contenders left are men.
MissRepresentation, in a task designed to help women support each other, asks each woman to identify her unique strengths and weaknesses so that she can draw on these qualities when mentoring or supporting other women:
“Take five minutes to write down three characteristics you like about yourself and three you’d like to improve upon. Then use the lists to focus your time and energy on being the best version of yourself!”
They go on to state:
“This action is not just about self-improvement, it’s about acquiring the skills necessary to inspire those around you. By first acknowledging your shortcomings and then being purposeful about your actions, you can work efficiently towards your goal of being a transformative mentor and model in your everyday life!”
I think the point here is that if you can recognize the value that you have in you and also recognize those areas that you might need to improve then you will be a better person, a better woman and, in turn, better able to put yourself forth as an example or mentor to other women and young women.
What are my strengths that I can use to mentor other young women?
These are the first things that came to mind.
1. I am a good writer.
2. I am a good scholar.
3. I am a good educator.
I was happy to see my list when I was done because much of my professional work is in the field of education. I teach men and women at both the undergraduate and graduate level.
Next I need to identify my growth areas:
This is more difficult because of the vulnerability that accompanies it. But here goes. In order to grow we need to be able to speak of the ways in which we can grow.
1. I can become better at teaching students and individuals the skills they need to be successful.
2. I can be more supportive so that people feel validated and encouraged.
3. I can do more to inspire people in ways that I feel inspired and I can help them to find ways to feel inspired.
How can I use this knowledge to help myself be a better mentor or to be a better leader or to be a better role model? That is a good question.
I think identifying my strengths helps me to feel more confident that I do have the skills to help other people and, in particular, to serve as a role model and mentor for other women. Along these same lines, the areas that are growth areas will only make be better at what I do. Casting competition aside and focusing on empowerment is one of the keys to growth and to the furthering of women’s success in the workplace and her place in society.
As a mother, my job is to continually support and further my daughter’s intellectual knowledge as well as her confidence and self-assuredness. These are the skills that are going to lead her down a path of success and independence. Hopefully the skills that I teach her will allow her to compete with men on an even playing-field and that she will hold her own in a male-dominated society.
The Challenge for You: Can you do the same? Are you willing to set aside a few minutes to think about your strengths and weaknesses? Can you examine how these two things affect how you currently are mentoring and encouraging women? Does this reflection change the way you think about how you could be mentoring and encouraging other women to reach their potential? What are your thoughts on this exercise in self-reflection and self-evaluation?