Here are some thoughts on the subject...
There may be no women in the illustration. Then again, maybe not. After all, it is just a cartoon!
(Note that we were certain to put women in the other cartoons as the series developed!
It was never our intention to put only men in the illustration - they were just people to us and it kind of just happened.)
Generally, we simply ask the viewers how many people are shown and generate some discussion. People will disagree as to whether there are three or four. One tactic is to ask them how they could conclude that there were, in fact, no women in the illustration! Reality is all about one's own perceptions and beliefs.
You can use this to open a discussion about the projective nature of the illustrations and metaphors as well as the different perceptions of reality among people. We bring our own beliefs to the program with us!
In a session in Svendborg, Denmark, we discovered a great story that we've suggested people use in their responses to "no women in the cartoon." I tell the true story that:
A man stood up in a session and said,
"The Square Wheels were obviously invented by a woman."
A woman in the same session then stood up and said,
"But the men are stupid enough to push it that way."
This generated a great laugh and helped the group move on toward other issues and opportunities.
"Richard," in a session said,
"How could the men possibly think that they could do the job effectively without women adding their assistance.
He then publically admitted that he was looking to build additional rapport with the women who were in the session!
At the Association for Quality and Participation (AQP) Conference in April, 1998, we showed the illustration on the left below (we show the pair of them here) to an audience of well over 250 people. (Apologies - The illustrations below may be a bit unclear. )
(The woman on the left has an idea lightbulb on the top right and the idea of a wagon with triangular wheels being pushed and pulled like that above. We name the illustration: "A Desk is a Dangerous Place from which to view the World." For us, it represents the fact that ideas are good but not all ideas are good ones.)
One of the men made the comment:
"The woman is just trying to make things harder for the men!"
One of the women then commented,
"The men wouldn't know the difference, anyway!"
This generated a huge laugh from the participants and added a good bit of fun to the session.
Humor is an essential tool to address problems in the workplace. It helps when people lighten up as we discuss problems and possibilities.
"Even Caterpillars can fly when they lighten up!"
Contact Scott Simmerman for a question or more information at Scott@SquareWheels.com
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