Expert Q&A | Anne-Marie Mediwake
Q: What 21st-century skills or traits would be essential for students?
A: I would say the things that are important are the things that have always been important. You have to have integrity. I think you have to have good character. I think that you need to understand that treating people as people first is important. Old styles of management used to be that you would berate people and make them fearful of you. I think that is a very old-fashioned notion of leadership. I think leadership today, which is why women are so good at leadership, requires more understanding and compassion–to be tough but encouraging at the same time. And those are all things that are inherent in young women and so I think that's the new style of leadership going forward. Be kind to one another. Treat others as you want to be treated yourself. Kindness is important.
Q: How can educators help students acquire these traits and skills?
A: I think educators can encourage students, first of all, to say them and recognize them. I think they should bring in women who have led by that kind of an example and have them talk about their lives. Storytelling and story-sharing is a very old way of teaching. It's been done for thousands of years, and I think that is really the best way to teach a next generation. Educators can say, "Here are my experiences, and here's what you can take away and learn from them." Educators can model by example. They forget that young women look up to them, probably more than they ever let on.
As educators, I think it's really important to teach young women that they have a light, and how to use it so it benefits others, not just draws attention to themselves. Women have a voice and should use their voice. A lot of times women want to be a bit quieter. I don't think that means being obnoxious. I don't think that's being brash. I also don't think it means not working with men. Sometimes women get this mindset that men have held us back so we can't work together with them and I think that is absolutely incorrect. First of all, I think that men of this generation are very different and very understanding. And secondly, I think the main message should be that we all work together and we're all people who need encouragement and support, whether you're a man or woman.