For our fifteenth episode of the Ministry at Scale podcast, we chatted with Catherine Gates, Executive Director of Women in the Marketplace and author of Confidence Cornerstone: A Woman’s Guide to Fearless Leadership. Catherine shared what led her to write her book, changing the cultural conversation about gender in the workplace, and how men can encourage their female coworkers.
When Catherine was working at WorkMatters, a coworker recommended that she read the book Confidence Code. The book explained the struggle women face in the workplace and the major deficit of women in leadership positions. Catherine explained that this is partially caused by women’s confidence – and this book shed much light on how to break out of your comfort zone to build confidence and resilience.
Catherine found herself asking, “How do you do that without faith?” Taking the risk to exit our comfort zone could mean that we fail and never try it again. But when we shift our identity to be in Christ, and not in our failures, we find the strength to take risks. So, while on a writer’s retreat, Catherine decided she would write the Scriptural supplement to Confidence Code.
Like a fish in water
We asked Catherine for her perspective on the current conversation about women in the workplace and what it should be changed to. She started by explaining the bias ingrained in our culture: that women are less valuable than men. Like fish who don't know they live in water, we often don’t notice the biases that surround us. Catherine admitted that even she had moments in the past where she saw a woman doing a “traditional” man’s job and thought to herself that a man would do it better.
She even shared a statistic that women see themselves as 20% less valuable than men – partially attributed to the fact that women have been taught to put their identity in worldly things: looks, job, relationship status, etc. But what matters most, is what God has to say about us, and the identity He gives us.
The key, said Catherine, is to recognize that everyone has unique abilities and skills – and in the workplace, we need to give everyone credit for the things they are capable of doing, no matter their gender.
A different perspective
Another statistic that Catherine shared is that organizations with one woman on the board will outperform organizations that have only men on the board by 26%! She explains that this is because women bring a different perspective than men and encourage new ways of thinking about organizational issues. In Catherine’s words, men and women have different experiences in life to bring to the table, and both are equally important.
When we asked how leaders can encourage women in the workplace, Catherine advised women to connect with other women, sharing experiences and preventing the insecurity that can be caused by being isolated from other women. She also recommends that men give women the space and opportunity to grow, especially in leadership roles.
In the end, it will take effort from both men and women in the workplace to build up women and remove our cultural biases.
Catherine’s book recommendation for our audience is The Common Rule by Justin Whitmel Earley, a book about habits that form a foundation to guide our lives.
To learn more about Catherine Gates and her work at Women in the Marketplace, visit womeninthemarketplace.net.