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Business & Life Skills

Core Competencies of Women

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What are the core competencies that women offer in the workplace?  How can women use this information to better market their skills during promotions and finding a job?  Bonita Banducci, a Gender Expert who teaches at Santa Clara University, helps companies find ways to retain women and bring more innovation and competitive advantage to their companies.

Show Summary

Link to Segment 1: Most companies lean toward evaluating their workforce based on male-oriented competencies.  What are female-oriented competencies that companies should consider if they want to tap the full potential of their women employees?  Find out about a whole category of thinking and skills that women bring that can be used to generate innovation and better solutions to problems.

Link to Segment 2: There are core competencies that have a female and male expression.  For example, a women will demonstrate being a team player in a different way than a man.  Often a women’s way is misinterpreted.  What are other competencies that women and men express differently?  How can women narrow the divide? How can men shift their perspective on these competencies?

Blog Post by our Guest

Rise!-as you Lean In!

There is a confidence and freedom as well as joy that my women graduate engineering students discover in my Gender and Engineering class at Santa Clara University. The men, too, discover a new way of seeing the world and how to work effectively with differences with Gender Competence, as one student put it, “I feel like I have a strategic advantage.”

There is one lesson about an everyday practice that drives women’s ideas and eventually drives women themselves out of organizations and out of engineering, that when understood and managed applying RISE, not only retains women, building confidence and freedom to contribute, but also increases innovation.

RISE is a model and formula for having different “competencies” of women and men working together. Relational & Individualistic = Synergy (the whole greater than the sum of the parts) and mutual Empowerment.

Many women see the world through a Relational lens of relationship and demonstrate competencies of “connecting the dots” systems thinking, multi-tasking, and sharing information to create new information.

Many men see the world through an Individualistic lens of status and independence, that give us traditional competencies of prioritized, linear thinking, focus on one thing at a time, and sharing information only as needed.

The everyday practice of playing Devil’s Advocate is the ability to poke holes and find faults using deductive reasoning to bullet proof an idea. As one Individualistic Executive of a local space agency said to me, “We do science here, Devil’s Advocate is science.” Relational people often respond to Devil’s Advocate as an indicator that their idea is not good—and often drop it, sometimes taking it personally that they are not competent. Then they show up to others as not confident and not competent. Point out that you bring another competency, Collaboration or Angel’s Advocate, to build on an idea with “what could make it work” and “what else is possible with the idea,” using inductive reasoning. You frame a competency that is otherwise invisible, unarticulated and unrewarded.

You bring a new competency into the organizational culture. You can teach your Devil’s Advocates by insisting, “Before we play Devil’s Advocate, I want to play Angel’s Advocate and bring your best thinking to this.” It will be a new muscle for them. You may have to prime the pump for them, demonstrate what you mean. You can also engage them in teaching you how to stand up to Devil’s Advocate, when that time comes. You will never back down again.

The first time I did an exercise to practice both Devil’s Advocate and Angel’s Advocate, two men who had been working on an environmental engineering problem together, came up with a solution they had not thought of before. This drove home, to me, just how foreign Angel’s Advocate collaboration can be.

At the space agency, the executive who said “Devil’s Advocate is science,” responded to the exercise with a woman colleague with“we had so much fun with all the new ideas bubbling up, we didn’t even play Devil’s Advocate.” He could see that Devil’s Advocate had been keeping the lid on  innovation, people proposing new ideas, realizing they did not want to stand before a firing squad.  Indeed, the highest ranking woman, next in line to run the agency, told me she had a new vision for the agency she had only shared with some women because she did not want to stand before the firing squad. With anticipated budget cuts to space projects, she envisioned taking on Homeland Security, Global Warming and Renewable Energy—her secret—until she saw her male colleagues learn to play Angel’s Advocate and could “trust” them with her vision.

Business schools are beginning to teach “improv,” responding to ideas with a “yes, and…” to not block ideas. Women need to teach this Relational competency too.

Notice that many Relational competencies are what you think is common sense, but they are not common, they are different and can be misunderstood unless you define them as competencies. Bringing all your Relational competencies to the table, speaking about them, pointing out the value and working them together with traditional competencies will have you, your colleagues and your organization RISE.

About Our Guest

Bonita Banducci teaches Gender and Engineering for Santa Clara University’s School of Engineering Graduate Program in the Core Curriculum, Engineering and Society. She is an Gender expert on how to retain and promote women in the Engineering Workplace for Mentornet, which provides professional mentors to women and underrepresented minorities in Science Technology Engineering and Math (STEM) majors in hundreds of universities throughout the United States. She is President of Banducci Consulting based in Hayward. Her original research in one of Silicon Valley’s Fortune 500 companies “What is the Contribution Women Make that Could be the Strategic Advantage in the Global Marketplace?” launched her specialization in Unmasking the Gender Effect. Banducci is a founding faculty of the Santa Clara University’s Global Women’s Leadership Network, sponsored by the Leavey School of Business and is a faculty member and coach for the Women Leaders for the World Program. She has taught Leadership Experience at the Leavey School of Business.

Banducci’s training work in gender differences and leadership, based in brain science, language, perception, paradigms and “Competencies,” adds a powerful dimension to coaching women and men, facilitating change and accelerating new behaviors. Her workshops and focus group work provide new thinking to leadership, and increase productivity, innovation, and promotability for both women and men.

As Senior Consultant for Banducci Consulting, she has worked with Adaptec, Amgen, Booz Allen Hamilton, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Intel, Johnson & Johnson, KLA-Tencor, Leadership Sunnyvale, Lifescan, Sun Microsystems, NASA Ames, Navy Corps of Engineers, US and California Environmental Protection Agencies, Xilinx, as well as organizations from local government, Santa Clara County and City and County of San Francisco and social benefit sectors, The Girl Scouts, YWCA and Center for Philanthropy at Indiana University.

Banducci represented the Santa Clara County Commission on the Status of Women at the UN World Conference on Women in Beijing leading a workshop on “Creating Partnership of Women in Business with Women in Development for Sustainable Global Development.”

She has delivered workshops at Santa Clara University, University of San Francisco, Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley, Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis, and Stanford’s Institute for Research on Women and Gender as well as women in technology conferences, WITI, Society of Women Engineers, Santa Clara University Women and Business.