Birgit SCHYNS is a NEOMA Business School professor on the Reims Campu. As part of the leadership course she teaches to numerous students, she remains fascinated by one particular activity, even after many years: the drawing exercise. “Through this graphics workshop, I am interested in the concept of leadership in the minds of students. The exercise is simple. First, I ask them to think about the concept of leadership in today's society. Then, in a second step, and in groups, I ask them to draw the concept. In the vast majority of cases, regardless of age or background, their drawings are of a man. For me, debating about the concept of a leader is a fascinating and concrete subject. My goal is to fight against the stereotypes that have been instilled in the minds of our students and future managers.”
“The diversity of origins creates a multiplicity of concepts of feminine leadership”Although access for women to the highest hierarchical levels seems to have gained ground in recent years, it is interesting to see that in a certain collective imagination, a leader is still often seen as a male figure. “This is what people refer to as the concept of the glass ceiling,” says Hédia ZANNAD, an associate professor at the School. “I have succeeded in demonstrating this thesis by holding numerous interviews with female journalists from the France Télévisions Group. It is a concept found in many societies and conveys many stereotypes relating to a leader’s profile. A social structure in which a woman can only be successful by exaggerating the traits that are normally associated with men. To succeed, women have to act like men. This is how some women portray themselves in business, based on stereotypes conveyed from generation to generation. To overcome this notion, Hédia ZANNAD has increased discussions with the students.” In my courses, I like to encourage dialogue on this theme. This often creates lively discussions due to the cultural aspect of the issue. The diversity of origins creates a multiplicity of concepts of what constitutes feminine leadership. A student from northern Europe will not react in the same way as a Latin, Indian or North African student”
To stimulate thought and fight stereotypes, NEOMA Business School is increasing the number of initiatives. Whether by teachers, as part of their courses or teaching approaches, or by students themselves, through the HeforShe initiative, for example, awareness is global. “In my opinion, this is a strong signal for tomorrow's society,” concludes Hédia ZANNAD.
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