Can’t we just fix the women? Designing a women’s leadership development program that challenges the organization.

There is an increased scrutiny of public and private organisations regarding the lack of women in their senior ranks, combined with increased internal pressure from women to make organisational cultures more inclusive, accommodating and encouraging of women. The resultant renewed organisational interest in women’s programs is driven by a desire to better ‘grow their own women staff’, in order to solve the pressing problem of insufficient senior women. However, this desire to ‘fix the problem’ often translates into a‘fix the women’ approach to women’s development.

Recent research increasingly points to organisational culture (Chesterman et al.2004; Palermo 2004) as the main stumbling block for women. This paper moves beyond taking a 'fix the women' approach to leadership development and explores ways in which it is possible to achieve a ‘dual agenda’, where a women’s leadership development program can benefit individual women while challenging the organisation. A ‘dual agenda’ program engages the organisation and the women in an organisational change process.