Engaging men to advance women's leadership

Nov 17, 2015


Molly Altorfer

Molly Altorfer is the co-director of communications and marketing for IWLC. She has previously worked as a freelance writer and served as Assistant Vice President for Communications and Marketing at Mount Mercy University. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication studies and political science from Gustavus Adolphus College and a Master of Arts in Communications and Journalism from Kent State University. Molly is an avid golfer and self-confessed news junkie. She and her husband have two daughters; Molly views her work with IWLC as making the world a better place for them.

When Todd Barker participated in IWLC events in the past, he more fully understood how many women feel in the boardroom or in their work environments.

What was that feeling? It was the feeling one gets when being “the only one” in the room – meaning the only person of their gender.

Mr. Barker and many of his male colleagues joined IWLC when it hosted its inaugural Men’s Track Program at the Eastern Iowa Conference in Cedar Rapids in 2015. More than 200 men learned about gender intelligence from one of the world’s foremost experts in the field, Barbara Annis.

The Men’s Track Program, which will be held at more IWLC conferences in 2016, is designed for men looking to learn more about gender intelligence and how to use that knowledge to have a positive impact in the workplace.

Gender intelligence is the ability to comprehend the distinguishing characteristics of males and females beyond that of physical and cultural, to include their attitudinal and behavioral distinctiveness. It is a consciousness that values gender difference in conduct, rationalizations, and actions and, as a result, enables gender-aware individuals to engage confidently and effectively with members of the opposite gender in social and workplace settings.

Mr. Barker, a financial advisor with the Seifert Trovas Group at Merrill Lynch in Cedar Rapids, was excited that many of his male friends and colleagues had the opportunity to experience IWLC and its rich leadership and gender intelligence resources.

The Men’s Track Program helps "convey and get the message out that IWLC is not just for women and that men can learn a lot from the content and networking that these events have.” “I know that I have learned a great deal [from IWLC] about issues that women face in the workplace and outside the workplace and have met some incredible women, not to mention some great presenters,” says Mr. Barker.

The Men’s Track Program particularly energizes IWLC Board Member Maureen Kler Osako, vice president of Informatics, Inc. “We recognize that women’s leadership is a global business issue that needs to be addressed systemically across the enterprise and include the involvement of both women and men at all levels of leadership,” says Ms. Kler Osako.

Mr. Barker believes that the inclusion of a separate, dedicated Men’s Track Program at IWLC conferences will drive home the point that proper, effective leadership is a skill set needed by both genders. “Leadership is important everywhere,” says Mr. Barker. “Whether you are leader of a family, a little league baseball team, an organization, or a company, there isn’t any area that doesn’t need leaders. Leadership is not a gender specific and while it is sometimes still considered a ‘man’s world,’ women are incredible leaders and when given opportunities in the workplace and other areas, they thrive.  It is important for men to understand a woman’s perspective, issues, and how they are similar and very different, because therein lies the real strength – our differences.”

Ms. Kler Osako echoes Mr. Barker’s sentiments, and underscores the necessity of the Men’s Track Program for forming quality leaders.

“Everyone benefits when men and women work together to advance their organization’s talent agenda and competitive advantage by attracting, hiring, developing, retaining, sponsoring and promoting women in every industry sector. We are very excited about our first Men’s Track, which promises to be a dynamic session focusing on research about engaging men in the charge of advancing the women’s leadership agenda,” says Ms. Kler Osako.


Category: Spotlight