Cooperation for female success: rhetorical question or thought catalyst?

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Cooperation for female success: rhetorical question or thought catalyst?

By Theaanna Kiaos

With International Women’s Day approaching, I was asked by the team at the Institute of Managers and Leaders to reflect on whether women need the cooperation of men to succeed. This is a surprisingly difficult question to answer. It is a subject that requires deep interpretation and certainly commands the antithesis of a black and white driven response. The many complexities and considerations this question seeks of us to resolve, warrants us to stop and think.


Challenge rhetorical questions

Perhaps the question is rhetoric in nature, devoid of needing a response because cooperation is considered an underlying assumption, a mechanism perfected through the evolutionary ages of man and thus, fundamental across all spectrums of life. Or is that simply wishful thinking?

Alas, what we know is that humans evolve at different rates, largely dictated by parenting, culture, education and the collection of life experiences where insight anticipates the transcendence of ill behavioural patterns turning us into thoughtful, mature and well-refined individuals.

However, on this life journey, we also see the continuum of individual thought or lack thereof; we see that some are less thoughtful than others and this is the crux of my argument, the heart of the matter and the core of our debate. This is where I would like to shine the spotlight because without deep thought and even deeper introspection, the evolutionary journey of one’s mind either stagnates or more problematically, withers and along with it, the vital chance to positively influence the trajectory of collective human consciousness.


Keep thinking, the catalyst for cooperation

This debate question poses significant dilemmas where more questions are unearthed the longer and more deliberate a plausible response reveals itself. These require, yet again, deeper analysis and deliberate thought. How do we catalyse insight and introspection? How do we increase the rate of individual thoughtfulness? How do we become more sophisticated in our thinking? How do we take a broader perspective, encouraging the myriad of shades of thought that any topic demands as a response? These questions are important because this is the type of thinking that underpins cooperation. At the heart of cooperation is thinking!


Join the conversation

We cannot advance and progress as equal genders unless we think, together. We cannot transcend ill behavioural patterns without thinking as one. We cannot catalyse the evolutionary trajectory of human consciousness without thinking cooperatively.

So back to the original question. Do women need the cooperation of men to succeed? I ask you, the reader, to make up your own mind, to observe your own thoughts, to consider what is true for you. I ask you to think about the answer, or perhaps, the myriad of other questions that spring to mind when you ponder such a multifarious topic. My response should be null and void to you. All I propose through this article is a perspective to catalyse thought, however, it is up to you, the reader, to determine an apt response. All I suggest is to think!


Theanna Kiaos is the Managing Director of Diversity First and is a sought-after organisational culture ethnographer. Theaanna has collaborated with companies including SBS and White Ribbon Australia. She has presented at numerous conferences and has been interviewed on the topic of diversity as a subject matter expert by SBS, Shortlist and Women’s Agenda. Passionate about accelerating organisational diversity integration, Theaanna believes that Australia is at a tipping point and ready to engage in the heavy lifting and strategic approach required to support marginalised cohorts.

6 thoughts on “Cooperation for female success: rhetorical question or thought catalyst?

  • Some wonderful, thought provoking questions, Theaanna! Thank you! Perhaps my response is influenced by my recent experience of a troll on a professional platform who claimed that women just needed to work harder just like men did to gain leadership positions and that men were being discriminated against. Still shaken from the threats and anger posted by this man – a CEO of a tech firm in the USA – and ‘liked’ by two other men, my question to add to the consideration is framed a little differently. How do we counter the impact of those whose beliefs are ‘Global’ – influenced by ignorance and fear, based on biased and nonsensical arguments and non- ‘facts’ which have been collected to support a flawed perspective?

    • Hi Kim,
      Many thanks for your thought-provoking response as well!
      That primitive mentality you experienced by the troll CEO (titles mean very little to me these days with respect to the value a title represents individual quality) is exactly that which my article refers to (for those that can read the lines and of course between the lines as well). How do we increase the rate of introspection hits directly at this Ceo’s inability to see (objectively) the problem for which it is. Women can and do have aspirations, but aspirations are increasingly difficult to reach if there are constant obstacles strategically positioned in front of them to stop any positive momentum and self-actualisation. Do not let this blind soul get the better of you and your work. Ignore such stupidity and push forward with your ideas and say what you think is right.

      What you have experienced is typical. Lack of deep thought coming from a person in a position of authority. This was reactionary, and it’s largely the product of life long conditioning which he hasn’t transcended. They say people with privilege do not recognise they have it. I believe this to be correct and without the necessary introspection, these types will likely not evolve too much further in their abilities to think objectively about gender equality.
      The best approach… Strike Back (10 times as hard) provided you have the knowledge to do so. In my experience, this usually paralyses such commentary and it’s enjoyable to see the psychological retraction in real time.

  • Hey Theanna

    The question is not rhetorical at all. 100% women need male cooperation to succeed, particularly in domains that have historically been male dominated.

    The Fed. liberal party is a perfect example, where for the sake of “merit” their establishment refuses to cooperate. But it’s bull because their conservative voter base already stacks the deck against them. There are women that can succeed in spite of barriers but these are exceptional freaks with super resilience.

    My wife couldn’t work if I didn’t make career limiting decisions to be my daughter’s primary career. The rise in her self esteem is easily worth extra dollars I am giving up. I also get the benefit of being home more. Both our workplaces have fairly flexible arrangements ( more cooperation) without which this arrangement isn’t possible.

    Equally there are female dominated environments where blokes can’t succeed. Eg. school P&Cs where blokes are told to grill snags and hammer nails but all their ideas by default suck.

    Cheers and good luck with the event.

    • Love your commentary Theo!

      All highly valid points. I wrote this article with the intention to provoke exactly these types of thought driven perspectives; thoughtful responses to the complexities that this question seeks. I also think it is terrific that you are observing the positive outcomes in your spouse’s self-esteem. The fruits from this increase alone will provide your daughter with an even greater role model that will surely pay dividends when it is time for her to fulfil her career aspirations.
      I do feel the issues that you have raised regarding gender and domination in specific industries largely boils down to cultural conditioning. It really takes a collective approach, a willingness perhaps, as the primary mechanism for lasting change. The Pale, Male and Stale domination is clearly still in full swing, particularly in the political sphere and of course, we cannot forget, corporate boards. It’s my life’s mission to chip away at this redundant and archaic norm. Your support in this battle is very much appreciated!

      Thanks Theo. Again, wonderful contribution to the conversation 🙂

  • Female or male success is much of an individual abilities, capabilities, knowledge and progressive professional development such as in Institute of Managers and Leaders (IML), however “Cooperation for female success” is linked to working together with gender diversity either male (or female or other and focus in becoming or “be a good employee” to your organisation whether they are male dominated, female dominated or OTHER dominated. Let us remember that success is 99% perspiration and 1% inspiration just similar to becoming a Genius. Cooperation is a skill to work with people in creating outcome together and the outcome should benefit win-win.

  • Wonderful commentary Vanaja.

    I agree with you, that success depends on individual abilities and knowledge, of course, plays a significant role with how one strategically navigates their life’s opportunities – whether they are self-created or have fallen into one’s lap so to speak. I also believe intrinsic motivation plays a particularly significant role, possibly what you refer to as the driver of “99% perspiration”.

    The one thing to keep in mind, are the heuristics of which can create barriers to success, both our own and the heuristics that others have of us. Of course, identifying such obscure matters of the mind, is a challenge. Close observation of behaviours is, in my opinion, an essential tool.
    It sounds like you are a passionate and a highly energetic women! I wish you all the very best success in your career and will try to follow what you manage to get up to.

    Many thanks for contributing to the conversation 🙂

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