Closing the Gender Gap: Making the Differences Work–What we can do

Written by Bonita Banducci, Julie O’Mara, and Jeffrey Wildfogel, Published by Employment Equity and Diversity Management, 1995, Royal Bank of Canada.

Written as an Executive Summary for Senior Management, this handbook was distributed to all employees, vendors and customers of Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) and given to many businesses and organizations for their diversity initiative implementations, including at the United Nations NGO World Conference on Women.

“I have been doing cross cultural training for 5 years and did not get how to “synergize’ differences until I read this booklet.”– Organizational Development Consultant

Read Closing the Gender Gap

Take Charge Of Your Promotion

Women Take Care and men Take Charge! According to Catalyst research, these are common workplace perceptions about women and men. I have found with the art and power of language, you can Take Charge of Your Promotion and your career, be authentically yourself, and increase productivity and innovation working with men.

The excitement engendered by Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In –and knowing the skills readers need to be able to lean in successfully -led me to ask my publisher: What if we took my ten hour coaching session and expanded my publication, Take Charge of Your Promotion, so that it took every reader through that process as if I was there working with them?

They said a resounding “Yes!” to both questions.

Announcing the full updated and expanded edition of Take Charge of Your Promotion.

Read Take Charge of Your Promotion 2017

With the value of 10 coaching sessions, this ebook is now available:

  • For more information – and to see how this self-managed, self-directed and replicable system gives you the tools to Take Charge– email: on its own or with additional individual coaching hours. A 40-page guide giving you the skills and understanding you need to improve your Gender Competence Skills and frame them so that “everyone” sees the value you bring to your organization
  • An invitation to join the Brilliant Women Online Community – where I’ll be joining in the discussion as you continue to take charge – expanding your success even further.

“What’s Different About Women’s Leadership in Philanthropy?”

A Workshop and Paper Given for Indiana University Center on Philanthropy’s Women in Philanthropy Conference, August 25-26, 2005

This paper is focused on Women in Philanthropy yet applies to women’s leadership in any field. The one factor that makes the most dramatic difference for women and men in differences working together is managing DEVIL’S ADVOCATE deducting reasoning and introducing the collaborative, inductive reasoning of ANGEL’S ADVOCATE.

Available in a shortened version from Jossey-Bass Publisher in New Directions For Philanthropic Fundraising edited by Sondra Shaw-Hardy and Martha Taylor, 2006. The full version is available on this website.

Click to download and read the chapter

Women’s Leadership in Philanthropy 2017




Rise!-as you Lean In!

There is a confidence and freedom as well as joy that my women graduate engineering students discover in my Gender and Engineering class at Santa Clara University. The men, too, discover a new way of seeing the world and how to work effectively with differences with Gender Competence, as one student put it, “I feel like I have a strategic advantage.”

There is one lesson about an everyday practice that drives women?s ideas and eventually drives women themselves outof organizations and out of engineering, that when under stood and managed applying RISE, not only retains women, building confidence and freedom to contribute, but also increases innovation.

RISE is a model and formula for having different ?competencies? of women and men working together.

Relational & Individualistic = Synergy
(the whole greater than the sum of the parts) and mutual Empowerment.

Many women see the world through a Relational lens of relationship and demonstrate competencies of ?connecting the dots? systems thinking, multi-tasking, and sharing information to create new information.

Many men see the world through an Individualistic lens of status and independence, that give us traditional competencies of prioritized, linear thinking, focus on one thing at a time, and sharing information only as needed.

The everyday practice of playing Devil’s Advocate is the ability to poke holes and find faults using deductive reasoning to bullet proof an idea. As one Individualistic Executive of a local space agency said to me, “We do science here, Devil’s Advocate is science. “Relational people often respond to Devil’s Advocate as an indicator that their idea is not good?and often drop it, sometimes taking it personally that they are not competent. Then they show up to others as not confident and not competent.

Point out that you bring another competency, Collaboration or Angel’s Advocate, to build on an idea with “what could make it work” and “what else is possible with the idea,” using inductive reasoning. You frame a competency that is otherwise invisible, unarticulated and unrewarded. You bring a new competency into the organizational culture. You can teach your Devil?s Advocates by insisting, “Before we play Devil’s Advocate, I want to play Angel’s Advocate and bring your best thinking to this. It will be a new muscle for them. You may have to prime the pump for them, demonstrate what you mean. You can also engage them in teaching you how to stand up to Devil?s Advocate, when that time comes. You will never back down again.

The first time I did an exercise to practice both Devil’s Advocate and Angel’s Advocate, two men who had been working on an environmental engineering problem together, came up with a solution they had not thought of before. This drove home, to me, just how foreign Angel’s Advocate collaboration can be.

At the space agency, the executive who said, “Devil’s Advocate is science,” responded to the exercise with a woman colleague with “we had so much fun with all the new ideas bubbling up, we didn’t even play Devil’s Advocate.”He could see that Devil’s Advocate had been keeping the lid on innovation, people proposing new ideas, realizing they did not want to stand before a firing squad. Indeed, the highest ranking woman, next in line to run the agency, told me she had a new vision for the agency she had only shared with some women because she did not want to stand before the firing squad. With anticipated budget cuts to space projects, she envisioned taking on Homeland Security, Global Warming and Renewable Energy “her secret” until she saw her male colleagues learn to play Angel’s Advocate and could “trust” them with her vision.

Business schools are beginning to teach “improv,” responding to ideas with a “yes, and…” to not block ideas. Women need to teach this Relational competency too.

Notice that many Relational competencies are what you think is common sense, but they are not common, they are different and can be misunderstood unless you define them as competencies. Bringing all your Relational competencies to the table, speaking about them, pointing out the value and working them together with traditional competencies will have you, your colleagues and your organization RISE

Bonita Banducci
Lecturer, Gender and Engineering
Santa Clara University School of Engineering Graduate Program
Sax, L.J. (2008) The gender gap in college: Maximizing the developmental potential of women and men. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass