Do Women Lack Vision?

by Nov 20, 20123Plus, Worth Knowing

Why do people think women lack vision?

Do women lack vision?

The facilitator posed the question, “Do women lack vision?” to a panel of senior executive women at The Boston Club, an organization that advocates for and helps companies find women directors for corporate boards. The panel included Laura Sen, CEO, BJ’s wholesale club; Willow Shire, Board Director, TJX; and Gunjan Kedia, Executive Vice President State Street Bank.

In Women and the Vision Thing  (Harvard Business Review) Herminia Ibarra writes,

“Women scored lower on “envisioning”—the ability to recognize new opportunities and trends in the environment and develop a new strategic direction for an enterprise.”

This conclusion was based on 360 ratings by peers of the female research subjects. Why is this important? Peer ratings tend to be lower than those of other rater groups, including managers and direct reports. For this reason, the Emotional Competence Inventory, a well-validated 360 assessment, adjusts the weight of peer group scores. To conclude that women lack vision, based solely on evidence from peer group ratings, seems a bit on the light side, in my not so humble opinion.

Questions about whether women lack vision and strategic thinking, may grow from a limited perspective about what vision and strategy look like and how they are expressed. Perhaps a vision is sometimes just that, a picture, versus words on a power point slide. In addition some people find it challenging to hold the notion that women (or any person) can be good with details and strategy simultaneously, or even sequentially. A discussion, later in this post, points to gender based brain differences that explain why and how women do both.

Vision is Visionary

For now, let’s leap to Pinterest, where ideas are expressed in pictures, and explore a different way of viewing whether women lack vision. In a recent post, Vicki Van Alstine wrote that women make up 70 – 80% of Pinterest users.

Pinterest is a visual expression of how and what users are thinking. And if a vision isn’t a picture, what is it?

At Google+ users express their ideas in words, and over there, men account for two-thirds of the 90 million users.

Men are for words? Women are for pictures?

Perhaps women are flocking to Pinterest because it is more aligned with our visionary ways of thinking.

Visions in Her Brain

According to Ellen F. Weber, PhD, Director of MITA International Brain Based Center, there are structural differences between men’s and women’s brains. Women access and integrate more areas of the brain to solve problems – which is the brain’s highest and most complex function.  Whereas men tend to approach problem solving with a logical step by step analysis, women use logical analysis, pictures, metaphors, and emotions. Each of these intelligences accesses a different area of the brain.

I often think in pictures. It happened the other day when Charlotte was talking about a new man in her life. An image of Charlotte swimming deep underwater flew into my brain. I described it to Charlotte and asked why this particular image was coming up? She responded that the relationship is taking her places she has long been afraid to go – her fear of deeply intimate relationships – well below the surface – underwater, so to speak.

Women with Visions

Moving away from Pinterest, the brain, and back to the business world, here are a few examples of women with vision.

Spanx, The Pampered Chef and Rubber Sidewalks are three successful companies started by women who saw needs that others did not notice. Then we have Judy Faulkner, founder of e-health company EPIC Systems, dubbed “Health Care’s Low Key Billionaire” in Forbes. For additional examples dubunking the myth that women lack vision see How She Does It: How Women Entrepreneurs Are Changing the Rules of Business Success by Margaret Heffernan.

The Female Vision: Women’s Real Power at Work by Sally Helgesen and Julie Johnshon is another excellent resource for understanding what and how women see differently, and why businesses benefit when leaders open their eyes to this difference.

Are you, or do you know, a woman with vision?

Please share your story here, and my apologies that the comment section does not allow you to post a picture. Perhaps a woman should design an app that does.

Click the picture to purchase either or both books that are among 3Plus International’s recommended gifts for professional women (and men).

A version if this post was originally published on Germane Insights in March 2012.

Dr. Anne Perschel Subscriber
Guest contributor
follow me

Found that interesting?
Learn more about our services

Individual services

Make your dreams a reality with a professional evaluation of your career to date.

Corporate services

The evidence is in. More women in your company can deliver 35% greater financial returns. (Catalyst)

Upcoming events

Book Now

Linkedin Live on Ageism Friday 24th September 2pm BST with Hung Lee

Join Dorothy Dalton and colleagues -  Jo Weech, Head of People, (Exemplary Consultants),  Jacob Sten Madsen, Talent Acquisition Advisor (Nielsen) & Anne-Hermine Nicolas, Head of Executive Recruitment (ex-Deloitte), Frank Zupan, Director of Talent Management (Associated Materials) to discuss critical issues in Hung Lee’s Brainfood Live.

You can register here.




Dates for the Diary

September  21st -  ENGIE Gender bias in Performance Assessment online
September 24th -  Linkedin Live on Ageism with Hung Lee
October 26th - Banque de Luxembourg Préjugés sexistes dans le processus de recrutment.



We have Remote Learning Programs available 

Check out our exciting portfolio of offerings to support your business in upskilling and competence building for your teams, to address the unprecedented challenges that women face in this new totally a digital world.

Download and listen free podcasts

Related articles

A small way men can be better allies

A small way men can be better allies

There are situations that most men would not give a second thought to, but women are programmed to think about their personal security. There are ways men can be better allies to women with simple steps.

read more

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This
3 Plus International Call Back Request