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RADA launches "executive presence for women" courses - what do you think?

(30 Posts)
BojanaMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 18-May-17 17:03:50


We've been asked to comment on RADA's "executive presence for women courses" tomorrow and we're interested in hearing your thoughts.

Here's an article in the Times (behind a paywall) which explains that the course will get course participants to "stop nodding in agreement, smile a lot less and try a bit of manspreading next time you’re surrounded by a table of men at a meeting, even if you’re a woman."

The Times continues: "As part of its training, Rada has listed ten body language “mistakes, where female leaders unknowingly reduce their authority by denoting vulnerability or submission”. These include using too many head tilts, which imply empathy; taking up less physical space than men; inappropriately and excessively smiling; and failing to interrupt enough."

There's also an article in the Telegraph.

What do you think? Would you find this useful? Would you take this course if offered?


KurriKurri Thu 18-May-17 17:20:51

I find the whole idea of 'if you want to get on you have to act like a man' quite offensive actually. Time and effort might be better spent educating the men in question that having empathy, listening skills and people skills is something they could learn.

Also - learning to interrupt more? - how about men learning to interrupt less, not talk over people because they have louder voices and general buck up their manners and idea. The idea that women need to learn to sit with their legs at quarter to three in order to be taken seriously is laughable. How about men try to confine themselves to one space and not be selfish?

Appalling idea IMO and a retrograde step in terms of womens' equality.

bubblesagain Thu 18-May-17 17:26:03

Charging £600 for a one day course and £2800 for the three day one to teach women not to head tilt or "to practice dreaded scenarios such as fending off sexist comments" just feels like taking the utter piss.
The solution to women being underpaid and having to deal with sexist comments in the workplace, should not be for them to pay to go on ridiculous courses to combat it.

WellErrr Thu 18-May-17 17:40:27

Is it a joke?

Teaching women (at their own vast expense) to act more like men in order to be taken seriously?
Did no one think of maybe just taking workplace sexism more seriously? And that if anyone needs to go on courses, it's the men perpetuating the sexism?


TrollTheRespawnJeremy Thu 18-May-17 17:43:10

Do you know what- they'd be better at teaching men not to be such misogynists in the office.

If I were to posture as they elicit on their course than I would get talked about behind my back and get a lot of "Who does she think she is?"

I am quite assertive as it is, and it is a difficult balancing game in order to be taken seriously.

Crochita Thu 18-May-17 18:02:58

What a load of crap!

Men are men and women are women. The world would probably be a better place if each one stopped trying to be more like the other.

BertrandRussell Thu 18-May-17 18:09:14

Women are trained from an early age to be accommodating and self effacing. Being more assertive in the workplace (and in life!) is a very valuable lesson for many.

JackieJormpJormp Thu 18-May-17 18:23:17

Hello, no I wouldn't take the RADA course, even if it was free.

It's a kick in the teeth to women working in a sexist industry (and make no mistake, the film & TV industry is massively sexist, and has been shown to be so over and over again, with fewer roles for women, and fewer opportunities for women directors, writers, and producers)

There are plenty of men in positions of power in these industries, and they are the ones who have the power to change how sexist it is - by making it easier for women to get to the top. Men like Lorne Michaels have done this in the US for women like Amy Poehler and Tina Fey. (and by association, Kirstin Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Leslie Jones.)

Instead, RADA have said up an expensive course in which women can pay to find out why the sexism in the industry is all their own fault.


BigGreenOlives Thu 18-May-17 18:33:53

I saw it in the paper and was shocked that they are charging so much. Ridiculous.

HundredMilesAnHour Thu 18-May-17 20:32:46

I don't particularly like the idea of a course specially for women but I do think Executive Presence courses can be quite enlightening for both men and women.

As background, I'm a woman working in the City in a senior role. I'm the only female member of my company's management team (I'm also the second youngest member). The investment banking industry is still very male dominated but having worked in the industry for so long surrounded by men, it's quite normal for me. The thought of a female dominated office makes me nervous as I imagine it could be quite bitchy. Male friends (of which I have many due to working with so many men!) tell me that I "think like a man" (in their eyes this apparently means that I'm logical rather than emotional!). Certainly I pretty much already do most of the things RADA are suggesting women should do. I think I've probably developed these traits as I've become more senior. It hasn't been a conscious development but somehow I went from being frustrated that men never listen to me in meetings (but 5 mins later a man can say what I'd already suggested and everyone leaps on it as a great idea and the man gets all the credit) to being one of the people who dominates the room (even if I'm not speaking). I don't know how it happened, it just did! However, the one thing I am very conscious of in meetings is body language. Sitting like a meek person with your head down or nodding with your hands in your lap is not good! I mentor a number of junior staff (male and female) and this is something I often pick them up on (in a nice way, we try to have a laugh about it).

My former employer sent me on a 3 day residential course for "Executive Presence" (at my request as I wanted to further develop my presentation skills). It was for both sexes though! (my class was probably one third women, two thirds men). It was actually one of the hardest courses that I've ever been on but I learnt a lot and met some great (and very bright) people. Maybe this is why I actually think RADA's course would be quite interesting although I would prefer it to be open to all sexes. There are plenty of men out there who also need the help. However, I will admit that it does tend to be women who have often been raised to be more subservient and empathetic, and this isn't always effective in the workplace, especially a male dominated one. I don't think it's about women behaving like men. I see it more as learning a new language or dialect in order to communicate more effectively with people you work with. I change my communication style depending on who I'm meeting with and to me this is just a form of that.

diodati Thu 18-May-17 20:38:02

Apart from such a course being sexist, presumably a woman who can afford such an outrageous sum wouldn't "need" to be taught professional assertiveness.

BertrandRussell Thu 18-May-17 20:42:45

If it addresses an issue that disproportionately affects one sex it is not sexist.

topcat2014 Thu 18-May-17 20:45:38

Now (and please don't shoot me down for mansplaining!) I do actually encourage my female staff to follow some of these rules - generally, if you listen to the telephone calls (mostly accounts work) it is surprising how much apologising goes on. These are business to business calls, so there really is no need - shit happens.

By 'banning' the word sorry from our vocab, it did help the general approach to the work, and, I think, my colleagues felt a bit less ground down by stuff.

(as it happens, we are often trying to delay paying suppliers - the big ones anyway. We always pay the window cleaner promptly etc).

I am by no means 'Alpha' male, or even Beta etc - but I don't tend to apologise for stuff I personally haven't done wrong.

topcat2014 Thu 18-May-17 20:46:25

I should point out that all my staff are female, probably.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Thu 18-May-17 21:17:05

I think it's great that RADA are doing this and making a splash about it, which might make women sit up and think about this aspect of how they present themselves, even if they don't go on the course. Paps above who comment on the need for the rest of the world to change have a point - but while we are waiting for that to happen, women can and should think about how they present themselves and ensure it is effective and fit for purpose if they want to get on.

I write as someone who had a very senior and successful business career, and definitely benefited along the way from learning some of the skills discussed in the Times article which this course will cover. We often used communication professionals - including actors - to help us to improve our presentation skills. By this I don't just mean standing up and talking, but everything about how you demonstrate your seniority, leadership, command etc in a business environment. I saw so many incredibly capable women letting themselves down by operating as though they were much younger and less senior than they were - its not about behaving like a man, its about showing you take yourself seriously so that others will also take you seriously. Some women naturally have gravitas - but women have often been socialised as they grow up to behave in an apologetic, demurring, self-effacing way and this does affect how they are perceived. I never had to be aggressive, but being calm, confident, and taking my space at the table and fully occupying it both literally and metaphorically meant that men didn't tend to turn to me as the only woman in the Boardroom and ask me to pour the coffee.

For those commenting on the cost, the course price is very typical for a one-day business course, which is who this is aimed at. Most attendees will have their fees paid by their employers as part of their ongoing professional development. I don't think they would expect individuals to self pay. As a manager, I have certainly paid more than this for a talented woman on my team to have coaching in executive presence - and it made a real difference to her career development.

WorkingItOutAsIGo Thu 18-May-17 21:17:47

*PPs above - damn you autocorrect

diodati Thu 18-May-17 21:22:11

relating to or characterized by prejudice, stereotyping, or discrimination, typically against women, on the basis of sex."his attitude to women is patronizing and sexist"

Trills Thu 18-May-17 21:23:57

I think I am disappointed that Deborah Frances-White is not running them.

Trills Thu 18-May-17 21:29:10

I think this is a good thing, but I also agree that "telling women to be more like men" is insufficient.

Men DO need to apologise more when they make a mistake, and do need to say "this is just my opinion" when something is just their opinion.

Women ALSO should apologise less, and stand up for their knowledge when they know best.

Women act like this because we have been put down all our lives and told to be nice and quiet and polite and told that their opinions don't matter and their experience doesn't count.

If the world were to stop treating girls and women in this way, in a generation women would not have to be told to stop over-apologising or saying "just" all the time, because they wouldn't have been pushed down all their lives.

lottiegarbanzo Thu 18-May-17 21:46:27

I can really see the benefit of this - and would have got something out of it, when seeking to personify 'authoritative' myself.

I also agree that tackling unprofessional, discriminatory and narrow-minded behaviours in men should be a priority.

I think though that those are two sides of the same coin and that coin is 'effective professionalism'.

I see this as being about helping women achieve that for themselves - not training them to be psuedo-men or into the bad habits some men have (am reading the PR puff as such, attention-grabbing and a bit tongue-in-cheek).

Domineering men, who do things in the way they've always been done and hire people who resemble themselves, do their industries no favours. In invisible ways and the longer-term, they are ineffective. So they need training in inclusivity, unconscious bias, active listening, creative thinking etc.

A with everything, the value of this for the company and, the desirability of continuing to work in that company for the women so trained, will depend on the true intent of the managers paying for the course. Is this their token effort to be seen to support inclusivity? Or, is it one part of a concerted, top-down approach to making their business really inclusive and effective? Do the people with power really give a damn?

BertrandRussell Thu 18-May-17 22:39:19

Diodati, this course is not sexist because it is addressing a recognized issue that affects women in the workplace.

It would also not be sexist to run a course called "Using Active Listening - a guide for men in the workplace" grin]

PickAChew Thu 18-May-17 23:24:31

They've obviously not spent enough time on mumsnet. Head tilting is the ultimate bit of passive aggressive body language!

LorelaiVictoriaGilmore Fri 19-May-17 08:00:04

I would love to do a course like this (although probably wouldn't pay for it myself). I wonder what sort of level it is pitched at? As long as it's not too basic, I think it could be really useful - I would hope for that kind of money the course isn't just a 'state the obvious' stand up / sit up / speak up / don't apologise course. I'm a senior lawyer in the City and while I try hard not to fall into the kinds of behaviours mentioned in the articles, I do find I have to make a conscious effort and a course of this kind could be really helpful.

Butteredparsnip1ps Fri 19-May-17 08:09:44

Firstly, I think RADA have identified a gap gimmick in the market and that this course is a business opportunity rather than an altruistic attempt to improve women's lot.

Even the fact the they are offering the course has an implicit message. ^You doing it all wrong love, come and learn to be more like a man^hmm

No thanks

EmpressoftheMundane Fri 19-May-17 08:19:29

I'm not sure it will do much good. 20 years ago when I entered the workforce, I acted "like a man." I took up space, I felt I had s right to be there, i interrupted. I did this naturally because I was confident, capable and passionate. I got thumped for it. Women don't act this way because they are not allowed to act this way.

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