Wise 50 Over 50 Award™
Farzana Chohan – Leadership IN Women
This is to share a little more about my path in life. This question that what I did before starting this enterprise cannot be answered simply. At this moment, it is hard to put myself into one box, or put a specific label, as I am multi-dimensional! I worked as an architect for almost two decades. My Bachelors and Masters degrees are in architecture and urban design. My Doctorate is in Management with research focused on mentoring and leadership.
The reason to start this endeavor is based on my professional, academic, leadership and personal experiences in last several decades. The experiences and observations had led me to a passion for “humanistic processes” in our world. Broadly speaking, I am a thought leader, an optimistic futurist, one who wants to participate in futuristic undertakings through concepts that act as catalysts and bridge the divides at all levels and specifically for leadership in women.
In last fifteen years, I have reflectively asked this question to myself, that how I arrived here, at this point in life? The answer is that there are several factors, it is complex and cannot be answered in simple terms.
I was born and raised in centuries old patriarchal society and seems to be amazing to see where I stand now, compared to when I was born in last century and last millennium. Not only that, I ended up getting a degree in Architecture and working in a male-dominated profession, in a very patriarchal culture, where I use to be an only young girl in meetings and on construction job-sites. Mostly perceived as a pretty face and accidentally being there, but not credible to be an architect, to give instructions on construction sites or in meetings. It has been an experience of a life time. I managed because I had good mentors in professional and personal life.
Fast forward in time, I arrived in North America, completed my Masters in architecture and urban design, but lost my constellation of authentic mentors who had previously put me on leadership track. The professional offices in North America had formal mentoring programs, which works for developing technical competencies to certain extent but not for the success of the mentees for any higher leadership paths.
With my experiential knowledge and research on leadership and mentoring, I came to a critical realization that although, Women are close to 50% of world population, approximately 3.5 BILLION in world are women, but they are not perceived as leaders, due to centuries old perception/s about women that they are not capable of leading. In our twenty first century world, this is an antiquated framework of leadership which has sidelined the fifty percent of our world.
I founded “Leadership IN Women” as a global platform.
Based on the book I authored this platform is above geographies, ethnic backgrounds, religious and political affiliations.
The vision and mission of “Leadership IN Women” is to reach and find the women leaders who are deep into the trenches in diversified communities. Objective is to bring their resolute leadership to daylight and highlight women who are making significant impact in the lives of people around them working in traditional male- work environments. Such women exist everywhere in our today’s world, not only in patriarchal societies like Asia and Africa, but also in developed societies like North America and Europe, but they are not recognized as leaders due to the concept of leadership being associated with men!
This is not a gender-struggle, it is not men versus women, it is a mindset issue, which are part of our unconscious biases ingrained in our brains. As, there are many men who quietly support women, like fathers, uncles, brothers, peers etc. and some of us know them as they have supported us.
Through this platform, we will be able to make this world a thriving place for all and women in professional and entrepreneurial domains will be widely recognized as leaders.