International Women’s Day: Women’s Work – Collaboration and Peace-Seeking?

From Boise State Public Radio’s new series

When I was working for the Forest Service as the Region 2 Planning Director, one of my favorite parts of the job was reviewing the Regional Forester’s Honor Awards. Awardees, both internal and external, came from all over the Region; the entertainment was superb (Dave Steinke videos) and a good time was had by all. It reminded me of Mr. Fezziwig’s ball from The Christmas Carol.

If we read many media reports, they focus on the problems and not the successes. Each one of the awardees deserved their own news coverage, and maybe some of the local papers did cover them. The larger media… not so much. Anyway, I remember a particular time awardees with The Nature Conservancy, something to do with the BFF and/or prairie dogs and ranchers I think in South Dakota, came to our morning meeting. It struck me what one of the folks (a woman) said, “we’re not enemies, we all want to do the right thing.”

I wondered at the time whether there was something about our biology, family experiences, or the broader culture (or the interaction of those factors), that makes women more likely to engage in peace-seeking and relationship-building, and being able to see potential middle ground.  Possibly struggling within your own group/discipline for recognition might make you feel less more inclined to question and less inclined to toe the group/discipline line. Or if we’re not likely to ever make it to the decision-making level, we have less to lose by being outliers.  I think of free thinkers like Tisha Schuller and Patty Limerick here in Colorado, and Susan Jane Brown in Oregon.  Or Judith Curry, or Bari Weiss in the broader world.  But perhaps those are older women’s experiences of non-inclusion and those have changed drastically in the past 20 years.  Sadly, it does not appear so in the science biz. Example, this 2019 issue of Lancet.

That is certainly not to say that all women are one way and all men are another, like anything else, there’s a broad range within each group. Still, there is a broad range of literature in a variety of fields from the biological to the anthropological to foreign policy studies, that does describe differences. For example, from the Council on Foreign Relations:

A growing body of research suggests that standard peace and security processes routinely overlook a critical strategy that could reduce conflict and advance stability: the inclusion of women. Evidence indicates that women’s participation in conflict prevention and resolution advances security interests. One study found that substantial inclusion of women and civil society groups in a peace negotiation makes the resulting agreement 64 percent less likely to fail and, according to another study, 35 percent more likely to last at least fifteen years. Several analyses suggest also that higher levels of gender equality are associated with a lower propensity for conflict, both between and within states. Despite growing international recognition of women’s role in security, their representation in peace and security processes has lagged.

My observation is that women in our neck of the environmental conflict woods are well represented in the partnership and collaboration world. Perhaps as the stakes get higher, less so, although that would be interesting for researchers to examine further.  Does anyone know of researchers looking into this?  This Harvard study is also interesting and possibly worthy of discussion- it’s about males potentially having more post-conflict affiliation. How or does that play out in our world?

And of course we’ve previously posted on gender as related to litigation:
Litigation and Mediation: Exploring the Gendering of Touchy-Feely Options

In 2013, Laura van Riper published this article in Rangelands. There’s a pdf available that I think you can access here. If not, let me know.

On the Ground
• In recent years women have become more visible as leaders of collaborative range management in the western United States. Drawing on the experiences of four such women, gender aspects of leadership and community activism are explored.

• The four women leaders consider their efforts as “nothing special” and “business as usual”; gender considerations are not prominent in how they view their success.

• Personality traits are important determinants of exceptional leadership. Although such traits are found in both men and women, there may be cases where the more feminine attributes that emphasize peacemaking, community welfare, networking, and consensus building facilitate the management of complex problems.

• Collaborative leadership is vital for rangeland management. Recruiting and training such leaders should focus on identifying those with appropriate personality traits and aptitudes—regardless of gender—and providing them with the tools, skills, and support networks for success. The four successful women ranchers described here give us tangible models to replicate.

Thoughts? Experiences?

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