Commentary

Add Women, Change the Conversation

March 23, 2012

Commentary:
By Roberta Guise

With March being Women’s History Month, now is the perfect time to celebrate and be guided by women thinkers whose ideas show us different ways of viewing and interacting with the world.

As it is now, only 13.5 percent of guests on the influential Sunday morning TV network talk shows are women, according to the American University’s Women and Politics Institute. With total viewers across the four biggest networks each Sunday in 2010 reaching 8.3 million, it quickly becomes clear that society isn’t getting the full picture, which includes women’s ideas, inventions and thinking.

To start remedying this gender gap in the public square, consider these breakthrough ideas from three deep-thinking women.

Imagine a society built around the concept of “caring economics,” where gross domestic product (GDP) includes unpaid activities. Or think about oyster reefs that ease the effect of storms and filter pollution in the water. Then wrap your mind around a “sharing society,” which is on track to replace the “ownership society.”

Distinguished social scientist and author Riane Eisler, who wrote the remarkable book The Chalice and The Blade, presents us with a contrarian way of looking at conventional economics in her recent book, The Real Wealth of Nations.
Eisler argues that instead of just valuing markets, we need to factor in the work of caring for families, children, health, the environment and other facets of society that are not included in the GDP. Where this kind of “caring economics” has been practiced, in such countries as Finland and Norway, Eisler said that poverty, crime and other problems that drag a society down are greatly diminished, and society as a whole thrives.

To make dirty urban water clean, Architect Kate Orff doesn’t believe in using chemicals. She sees bundling oysters into beds and sinking them into city rivers, where the oysters take in algae and detritus in one end of their body, and, Orff said, “… through this beautiful, glamorous set of stomach organs, out the other end comes cleaner water.”

Lisa Gansky, serial entrepreneur and author of The Mesh: Why the Future of Business is Sharing, envisions a future in which “access trumps ownership.” Instead of every person buying items just for themselves, they will share. With music being largely accessed through services like iTunes and Rhapsody, and organizations such as City CarShare and ZipCar providing a set of wheels when one needs them, Gansky’s vision is on track to being realized.

We can support Women’s History Month by pledging to tap into the ideas and wisdom of women. Start by watching a TED video (TED.com), featuring one of the hundreds of thought-leading women whose ideas are presented in an 18-minute segment; or ask your local librarian to help you find a woman author in your field of interest.

When you add women, the conversation changes for the better. Because when women influence and guide important conversation, it will affect us all and make society at large the big winner.

Guise is the founder of Guise Marketing & PR.

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