Women Lean Leaders | Cécile Roche, Marie-Pia Ignace & Monica Rossi | Planet Lean

“Lex Schroeder: What value, if any, does gender equity in the workplace hold for the potential of lean thinking and practice?

Cécile Roche: As it has been well observed by neurobiologists like Catherine Vidal, it is impossible to guess whether a brain belongs to a man or a woman…”

Sourced from Planet Lean

Michel Baudin‘s comments: I was encouraged by this opening sentence by Cécile Roche, who runs the Lean group at Thales, and whom I have had the privilege to serve on occasion. As I once heard Gloria Steinem say, there are very few jobs that require men’s or women’s gender-specific equipment, and the rest should be open to everybody.

Professional qualities — including leadership, creativity, rigor, perseverance, ability to learn and analyze, emotional intelligence, etc. — are not gender-specific. They are individual, and societies that discriminate against women are simply depriving themselves of the talents of half their members.

Laskarina Bouboulina, commander of the Greek navy during the war of independence, 1821-1825

When I think of women who have distinguished themselves in politics, from Catherine the Great to Angela Merkel, in business like Meg Whitman or Mary Barra, in science, from Émilie du Chatelet to Maryam Mirzakhani, or in the military, like Laskarina Bouboulina, I see individuals whose gender is irrelevant to their achievements.

Marie-Pia Ignace, whose first name is misspelled in the by-line, points out that there is nothing gender-specific in any element of the Toyota Production System. It’s literally true and it’s helpful that it is but, in historical context, its creators were like the founding fathers of the US, who extolled equality while holding slaves. In the context of 20th-century Japan, I don’t believe that the Toyodas or Taiichi Ohno were giving any thought to professional opportunities for women. If gender equity had been a concern of theirs, we would know it by now.

I wondered where Monica Rossi got the idea that “Twenty or thirty years ago, most women didn’t have jobs.” Assuming she meant in Italy, I checked out Giulia Mancini’s exhaustive study of Women’s labor force participation in Italy, 1861-2016, from which I excerpted the following chart:

Female active population across countries, with Italy in red

The proportion of women in the active population of Italy went from 33% in 1980 to 41% today. So it’s true that the majority of Italian women didn’t have jobs 30 years ago but it’s still true today, and Italy employs fewer of its women than any of the other countries on the chart, where it has not massively changed since 1980.


#GenderEquity, #TPS, #Toyota, #Lean