Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women on Business writer
As some of you may know, the University of Connecticut women’s basketball team made history a couple of weeks ago by setting an NCAA record with their 89 game win streak. This topped the previous record, set between 1971 & ’74, in which UCLA had 88 wins in a row. The UCLA team, however, was a men’s basketball team – and that’s where the controversy comes in.
A lot of people said a lot of pretty dumb things. Some of the writers pointed out that these were two different sports and couldn’t be compared. Therefore, to follow that argument, the UConn Huskies achievement wasn’t all that the numbers indicated, and didn’t really surpass the men’s record. One sports writer was quoted as saying “Comparing men’s and women’s basketball isn’t like apples and oranges…it’s more like apples and meatloaf…” That’s an interesting point of view considering that both teams were playing the same game in the same league. And anyway – why the need to put down the women’s accomplishment in the name of protecting the men’s record? Can’t we all just get along?
The whole back and forth reminded me of the many differences in the styles of women and men. Whether it’s the style of play in a sport, or leadership style in the business world, men and women are clearly and obviously different. But that hardly means that the style of women is in any way inferior. In fact, men excel at certain traits and women shine with different skills. In organizations, for example, when we have researched workplace leadership styles, women tend to excel in listening, empathizing and sharing information, while men often stand out in short-term decision making, direct communication and curbing their emotions. Each of these traits has positive aspects and also downsides, depending on the context.
The bottom line is that women and men need to acknowledge their differences – and place value on what the other gender offers. That way, we can all respect each other’s talents, deal respectfully with conflicts and look for resolutions when we have differences.
Back to the Huskies…ultimately their win streak came to an end after 90 games. But they have undoubtedly gained much from their experience and will continue to fight on as all champions do. Men OR women.
What do you think? Please share – and have a great New Year!