Smashing Paradigms – #TheFutureIsFemale

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”



For years we have been talking about gender equality, yet the glass ceiling is still ever present at the top echelons of business globally. More than that, boardrooms remain “pale, male and stale”. As a white male, I can only empathise with those who are not given the fair opportunity to a certain extent, but I can tell you that I feel we are not going nearly far enough in radically acting to shift this balance.

How about this. The world needs women in top business leadership not only in equal numbers to men, we need there to be MORE women than men at the top.

My thoughts I posted on LI recently when I shared a short video :

“For me, I believe we are at a turning point for the world towards leading from the feminine rather than the masculine. As with any other journey of such change, the old guard is fighting to maintain the control of (toxic) masculinity, yet the world is changing. I’m truly excited to be living in these times and ready to see and be part of the changes.

Soon we will see the shift from toxic masculinity towards leading from LQ first, so leading from feminine energy allied to masculine. #SoulLeadership”

That short video was from Jack Ma, founder of AliBaba, who talks for 40 seconds and introduce the idea of LQ as a level beyond EQ. Yes we need IQ, but the future of leadership will see both EQ and LQ.. LOVE Quotient.. vital to our leaders. Now, who will those leaders be ?

Jack Ma :

“a lot of men, they have a high IQ, but low EQ, and a very tiny LQ. Women, balance-wise, they’re the best. If you want your company to be successful, if you want your company to operate with wisdom, women are the best.”


Now, an example of who the women leaders of today and tomorrow will be.

Marka Dukharan is tiny of stature, yet a vast intellect. She is a leading Caribbean Economist and one of the most brilliant (IQ), caring (EQ), kind and generous (LQ) human beings I have ever known.

I count it as a mighty privilege to call Marla a dear friend and a true inspiration.

marla sir arthur lewis

In 2017, Marla Dukharan became only the second woman in the 22 year history of the event to give the Sir Arthur Lewis Memorial lecture, the most prestigious annual Economics lecture in the Caribbean.

Oh, and Sir Arthur Lewis was a Caribbean national who won the Nobel Prize for Economics. I look forward to being in the audience in Oslo to whoop and cheer (and party like a Trini !) when Marla is awarded hers in due time !

So, and it was Marla who gave me the hashtag #TheFutureIsFemale, I give to you the opening of her speech and ask you to recognise that only a woman would have given such a wonderfully passionate opening !. IQ, EQ, LQ ! :

“I beg your forgiveness this evening for breaking with the tradition of paying homage to Sir Arthur Lewis at this lecture, and instead, recognizing the role of his mother in shaping his genius. From all that I have read of Sir Arthur Lewis’ character, this is what I think he may have preferred.

After his father had passed away, Sir Arthur Lewis’ mother, Ida, was left to single handedly raise five sons ranging from 5 – 17 years old. FIVE boys! Sir Arthur Lewis said “My mother was the most highly disciplined and hardest working person I have ever known, and this, combined with her love and gentleness, enabled her to make a success of each of her children,”. This to me itself is worthy of a Nobel prize!

And while it was my initial idea to dedicate this lecture to my family – my parents, my husband and my children – the giants upon whose shoulders I stand, I want instead, to dedicate this lecture to my late grandmothers.

To my grandmothers:

Who were born into the vicious cycle of persistent poverty, typical of indentured labourers in Trinidad and Tobago in the post-WWI era.
Girls who were married off as child brides to young boys they didn’t even know, not because their parents didn’t love them, but because such love is a luxury that hunger cannot indulge.

They had no real freedoms or choices, due to grinding poverty, true, but sadly, also due to misogynistic traditions thinly veiled as “religious” beliefs.

My grandmothers were basically illiterate, but they knew, with the intelligence that God gave them (rather than a solid British education, or from empirical studies in peer reviewed journals), that education is the only way to break the vicious cycle of persistent poverty.

Education, and not making child-brides of their daughters. For their eleven children each, taught them the importance of family planning, because it was a choice they never had.

These women were able, against impossible odds, to help break the cycle of poverty in their families, without a fancy World Bank or United Nations Poverty Reduction Programme. And not by a process of osmosis either – for many families remain stuck in this cycle of poverty in my country. And I have seen families descend into poverty, for a lack of a wise and determined matriarch.

My grandmothers had never worn pants, literally never wore pants, nor had they “worn the pants” so to speak, in their homes. But guess what? Who needs pants when you can wear a cape, disguised as a sari or an orni. These women, my grandmothers, are my superheroes.

So, and I thank you for indulging me, I dedicate this to my grandmothers, because I think I can safely say, with utmost humility, that this – me standing before you here this evening – is what they suffered for, and what they would have wanted.”