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The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future

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Among 64,000 people surveyed in thirteen nations, two-thirds feel the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. This marks a burgeoning global trend away from the winner-takes-all, masculine approach to getting things done. Drawing from interviews at innovative organizations in eighteen nations and at Fortune 500 boardrooms, the authors reveal how men a Among 64,000 people surveyed in thirteen nations, two-thirds feel the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. This marks a burgeoning global trend away from the winner-takes-all, masculine approach to getting things done. Drawing from interviews at innovative organizations in eighteen nations and at Fortune 500 boardrooms, the authors reveal how men and women alike are recognizing significant value in traits commonly associated with women, such as nurturing, cooperation, communication, and sharing. "The Athena Doctrine" shows why femininity is the operating system of 21st century prosperity: Leadership: values traditionally associated with women create more effective leadership and organizational strategies in today's society.Career management and self-improvement traits associated with women--flexibility, empathy, and honesty--underpin career mobility and personal fulfillment.Change management: feminine traits help us adapt seamlessly and effectively to today's changes. Brought to life through real world portraits of women and men who lead Fortune 1000 businesses, new ventures, government and nonprofit agencies, and community groups--and backed by rigorous data--"s"ocial theorist John Gerzema and author Michael D'Antonio show how traditionally feminine traits are ascending and bringing success to people and organizations around the world. By nurturing, listening, collaborating and sharing, women and men are solving problems, finding profits, and redefining success in every realm.


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Among 64,000 people surveyed in thirteen nations, two-thirds feel the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. This marks a burgeoning global trend away from the winner-takes-all, masculine approach to getting things done. Drawing from interviews at innovative organizations in eighteen nations and at Fortune 500 boardrooms, the authors reveal how men a Among 64,000 people surveyed in thirteen nations, two-thirds feel the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. This marks a burgeoning global trend away from the winner-takes-all, masculine approach to getting things done. Drawing from interviews at innovative organizations in eighteen nations and at Fortune 500 boardrooms, the authors reveal how men and women alike are recognizing significant value in traits commonly associated with women, such as nurturing, cooperation, communication, and sharing. "The Athena Doctrine" shows why femininity is the operating system of 21st century prosperity: Leadership: values traditionally associated with women create more effective leadership and organizational strategies in today's society.Career management and self-improvement traits associated with women--flexibility, empathy, and honesty--underpin career mobility and personal fulfillment.Change management: feminine traits help us adapt seamlessly and effectively to today's changes. Brought to life through real world portraits of women and men who lead Fortune 1000 businesses, new ventures, government and nonprofit agencies, and community groups--and backed by rigorous data--"s"ocial theorist John Gerzema and author Michael D'Antonio show how traditionally feminine traits are ascending and bringing success to people and organizations around the world. By nurturing, listening, collaborating and sharing, women and men are solving problems, finding profits, and redefining success in every realm.

30 review for The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future

  1. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Got half way through it and don't care for it enough to finish it. While many of the international projects or business models were interesting- I didn't agree with their premise that they were somehow inherently "feminine". Even the parts that were interesting, were anecdotal, and thus did not contain enough "meat" to really glean much from.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Dane Cobain

    Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review. I have to give the authors credit here - I disagreed with a fundamental principal of the book, and yet I still immensely enjoyed it. Loosely speaking, the Athena Doctrine is the theory that women and the men that think like woman will lead the way in to a brighter and better future where people work together for a common good. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I disagree with the classifications of which traits are Disclaimer: While I aim to be unbiased, I received a copy of this for free to review. I have to give the authors credit here - I disagreed with a fundamental principal of the book, and yet I still immensely enjoyed it. Loosely speaking, the Athena Doctrine is the theory that women and the men that think like woman will lead the way in to a brighter and better future where people work together for a common good. Unfortunately, I'm not sure if I disagree with the classifications of which traits are masculine and which traits are feminine - they don't match up with my own experience, and I think that assigning genders to character traits is a dangerous game. That said, the author's did it fairly, asking survey respondents to assign traits to either one gender or another. And they needed some way to do it, because I agree that the character traits that they opted to focus on are great attributes for a leader to have, whether they're a CEO, a politician or an entrepreneur. The authors have backed their argument up with countless case studies from around the world, and it's eloquently put by two talented writers. It's just difficult to get in to a book if you're not sure whether you agree with the central concept. That said, I do think it's well worth reading this if you're a businessman who wants to change the world and the workplace for the better. Just take it with a pinch of salt (as you always should) and use this book for its true purpose - to inspire you to make the world a better place.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Reid Mccormick

    Over the past couple of years, I have become increasingly interested in the topic of women and leadership thanks in large part to my amazing wife. My wife is definitely a leader. People seem to warm up to her almost immediately, but things are far from perfect for her. Unfortunately, I have personally witnessed my wife being treated differently simply because she is a woman. It is incredibly frustrating to see a colleague treat mine differently than they would treat me. I physically feel the fru Over the past couple of years, I have become increasingly interested in the topic of women and leadership thanks in large part to my amazing wife. My wife is definitely a leader. People seem to warm up to her almost immediately, but things are far from perfect for her. Unfortunately, I have personally witnessed my wife being treated differently simply because she is a woman. It is incredibly frustrating to see a colleague treat mine differently than they would treat me. I physically feel the frustration in my gut. Now being a father to a beautiful baby girl, I am even more committed to understanding the cultural frustrations of women today. I saw The Athena Doctrine at a conference and it looked quite interesting but to put it simply, The Athena Doctrine was not what I expected. I don’t think the book was poorly written, I just did not understand why the authors decided to do a study attributing certain characteristics to a specific gender. On top of that, I did not find much value in that initial study. I think our educated society knows the right answers, but putting them into play is the difficult part. We can ask the question: Are men and women equal in their abilities? Most Americans would say yes, however reality says something different. Thus, the study says feminine leadership qualities will be the future, but will reality say the same thing? Again, I don’t dislike this book. I found the chapters interesting. I even did research on Iceland’s Constitution after reading about it in this book. However, the “crowdsourced” constitution described in the book actually failed and has never been adopted, which led me to question the rest of the stories included.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Cathy Griffith

    Quite interesting. The authors identify a list of social traits that are usually/traditionally associated with women as opposed to a set of traits usually/traditionally associated with men. Then they look at current economic development & governance in a wide range of countries & cultures which embody the feminine methods & aims (Athena Doctrine) to underscore their assertion that the world will be a better, healthier, more equitable place as "feminine thinking" gains adoption over masculine thi Quite interesting. The authors identify a list of social traits that are usually/traditionally associated with women as opposed to a set of traits usually/traditionally associated with men. Then they look at current economic development & governance in a wide range of countries & cultures which embody the feminine methods & aims (Athena Doctrine) to underscore their assertion that the world will be a better, healthier, more equitable place as "feminine thinking" gains adoption over masculine thinking. It's not fool proof, but it is worth examining, and frankly, how could feminine thinking make the world worse than it has been under masculine thinking? I still need to look up a couple of the footnotes. I'm NOT a man-basher, but I will admit that I am hypersensitive to machismo & general gorilla like chest thumping. When I witness it, it brings out the snark in me.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Lane Hannah

    I'm reading a lot about inequality lately. What I liked about this book is the real-life stories that breathe life into some of the more academic theories about where we stand now in a world increasingly disillusioned by big business and government involvement - often run in a typically masculine or ego-driven style. At times the Athena Doctrine is heartwarming in its bringing together of stories of people making a difference in the world. Drawing together research results that demonstrate a cha I'm reading a lot about inequality lately. What I liked about this book is the real-life stories that breathe life into some of the more academic theories about where we stand now in a world increasingly disillusioned by big business and government involvement - often run in a typically masculine or ego-driven style. At times the Athena Doctrine is heartwarming in its bringing together of stories of people making a difference in the world. Drawing together research results that demonstrate a changing leadership environment and a generational shift towards more transformative and socially conscious business and social ventures. Having read Sheryl Sandbergs Lean In recently - the Athena Doctrine adds some research weight to a very hot topic in an accessible way.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    Great research on the traits valued in men and women, what really counts for leadership, and what male and female traits all of us need. Then...lots of examples from around the world of individuals and organizations that demonstrate the more feminine. After the research summary, I was expecting far different content...

  7. 5 out of 5

    Cheri

    The publishers of this book should be ashamed. Not only is the research on which the "Athena Doctrine" is supposedly founded awful from a scientific perspective, the presentation of the data is also poor and inappropriate for the intended audience. How do you have a book about feminine values in the workplace and only show male viewpoints on the graphs? As the case study section began, none of the supposed Athena principles of leadership that were outlined in chapter one seemed to ever be mentio The publishers of this book should be ashamed. Not only is the research on which the "Athena Doctrine" is supposedly founded awful from a scientific perspective, the presentation of the data is also poor and inappropriate for the intended audience. How do you have a book about feminine values in the workplace and only show male viewpoints on the graphs? As the case study section began, none of the supposed Athena principles of leadership that were outlined in chapter one seemed to ever be mentioned again (or certainly the case studies were not grouped by trait nor were specific traits pointed out in their studies). It was just supposed to be enough for us to see that women were successful owners of companies and the theory (which was supposed to be the premise of the book) was conveniently forgotten--I'm assuming when they couldn't jam every female entrepreneur into this mold.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sue Parker

    A good book but not exceptional. As I read further into the book, I found it to be less about distinguishing the masculine vs feminine behaviours, and more about individuals who took advantage of technology and social media to address an immediate local problem, and improve quality of life for small groups of people, that are outlined in the case studies. If you're short on time, flip to the back of the book and read the appendix, it's a good synopsis.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    I appreciate the intention behind this book, but had an issue with the way that it was presented. By making character traits inherently sexual (i.e. male or female), it makes it harder to "break the mold". I liked the highlight they gave to the gender-neutral preschool in Sweden, but the book essentially contradicted that by making character traits inherently related to one's gender. Again - appreciate the intention, but not the execution.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cindi Kerr

    Well researched. Thought provoking. Not your usual "women are better at leading than men" diatribe. The book takes a world-view of the "what got us into this won't get us out of it" premise. Not nearly as dry as I'd expected, this book is easy to read and follow. Not just for MBA's but for anyone who is raising children to thrive in the future.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Tyr Astaroth

    I took a phenomenally long time to complete this book, and was glad that I had borrowed it from a library instead of wasting good money by purchasing it from the bookstore. Besides the glaring grammatical errors, the book cannot be held as a creditable source of information for any particular industry. Using research and data collection techniques that are dubious at best, the book is written in a feel-good manner that combines weak analysis of dated companies in tandem with learning anecdotes f I took a phenomenally long time to complete this book, and was glad that I had borrowed it from a library instead of wasting good money by purchasing it from the bookstore. Besides the glaring grammatical errors, the book cannot be held as a creditable source of information for any particular industry. Using research and data collection techniques that are dubious at best, the book is written in a feel-good manner that combines weak analysis of dated companies in tandem with learning anecdotes from enterprises that they have deemed unique and compliant with qualities that can be attributable to the feminine side. Termed by the authors as the titular Athena Doctrine- qualities that are inherently female and essential to building the foundations to a better and sounder society or corporate structure- a decision as written by male authors and an inordinately large pool of male survey participants. Most of these case studies are now defunct or tottering along behind other companies and industries for a number of years, making them seem more like a group of case studies that refute the soundness of the author’s Athena Doctrine. Ironically, as if to provision a forewarning for the weak premise of their book- the showcasing of feminine traits in contrast to masculine traits to enhance the productivity and progress of work- the authors added in their first interview experience of being severely berated by Ann Danylkiw, a doctoral candidate at Goldsmith College at the time of writing. She expressed her objections at calling traits “masculine” or “feminine,” and “voiced strong doubts” about the target audience of their book, as well as the issues that they were exploring with it. Generic and sweeping statements such as that in Chapter 2’s opening introduction “Still, it’s hard to find anyone in Reykjavik who thinks that it was a mere coincidence that the guys who wrecked Iceland’s economy were all, well, guys,” litter the book and make it hard to read without first taking a deep breath to realign facts with statements. It becomes tenuously hard to believe that credible individuals as quoted on the book cover like Pat Mitchell, President and CEO of Paley Center for Media, Ann-Marie Slaughter, a professor of politics and international affairs at Princeton University and others, have deemed this an influential book with painstakingly researched and documented facts. If the intention of picking up this book was to understand how to become the next Athena- the eponymous goddess of wisdom and war- in a modern world application, I highly suggest picking up another book instead.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Georgia Martine

    This book was a breath of fresh air in a time where the myth of the lone, billionaire genius is the dominant narrative of success. It devotes a chapter per country and focuses on the unique viewpoint and struggles each culture has in this modern world, along with the (wholesome) success of a selection of citizens that the authors interviewed. I was introduced to the Bhutan style of government and way of life for the first time, which has to be one of the most down-to-earth nations: Change may be i This book was a breath of fresh air in a time where the myth of the lone, billionaire genius is the dominant narrative of success. It devotes a chapter per country and focuses on the unique viewpoint and struggles each culture has in this modern world, along with the (wholesome) success of a selection of citizens that the authors interviewed. I was introduced to the Bhutan style of government and way of life for the first time, which has to be one of the most down-to-earth nations: Change may be inevitable, but it can be met with certain immutable, positive values. Among the ones Bhutan seeks to preserve, said Karma, “are conservation of the natural environment, our sense of community, looking out for neighbors, and looking out for fellow countrymen.” Karma noted that these concerns are “soft” and “very conspicuously absent in the important considerations of most governments, who instead focus mostly on unemployment, stock markets, and stuff.” I'm feeling optimistic for the future for the first time in about 10 years after finishing this.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Bree Taylor

    A book club selection, The Athena Doctrine was dropped by our book club after the first few chapters. I'm not sure if the book felt outdated only a few years after being published or that the authors seemed to be doing little but storytelling, but it just didn't speak to me at all. I was irritated at the continued need to put things in masculine and feminine qualities - mostly because I would like to see them as human qualities rather than continue to place labels on these traits. But, there were A book club selection, The Athena Doctrine was dropped by our book club after the first few chapters. I'm not sure if the book felt outdated only a few years after being published or that the authors seemed to be doing little but storytelling, but it just didn't speak to me at all. I was irritated at the continued need to put things in masculine and feminine qualities - mostly because I would like to see them as human qualities rather than continue to place labels on these traits. But, there were 10 traits that were labeled in the introduction that they would cover. It wasn't until I was in chapter 3 that I realized that each country was supposed to exemplify a characteristic. A dnf for me is extremely rare - but this book would just continue to be a time suck for me and I'd rather read things I'm more interested in. Or - at least where I can see the point the author is trying to make.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Rick

    The book starts with a vignette wherein the authors explain their project to a female researcher and she advises them not to do it. I wish they had taken the advice. The authors don't seem to have any background in business, leadership, or any other relevant topic and don't even bother to connect the examples to their broader points. I'm a believer in the argument expressed on the cover, and there's good science to support it, but this book doesn't deliver on that promise. This might be the first The book starts with a vignette wherein the authors explain their project to a female researcher and she advises them not to do it. I wish they had taken the advice. The authors don't seem to have any background in business, leadership, or any other relevant topic and don't even bother to connect the examples to their broader points. I'm a believer in the argument expressed on the cover, and there's good science to support it, but this book doesn't deliver on that promise. This might be the first one star review I've ever given, but it earned it.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Emily

    DNF'ed at 18%. I felt like the findings in the introduction were pretty basic/obvious and then the chapters looking at country-specific companies just didn't seem to add anything to my understanding of global gender inequity in leadership

  16. 5 out of 5

    ghost

    Sensational read with lots of fantastic stories about women (and men who think like them) changing the world for the better. What a cool window into parts of the world we rarely get to hear about in America.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Metzi

    I had a hard time believing the authenticity of this book after they called the infamous Pablo Escobar as Carlos. No fact checks? I also felt that although I knew this would be more qualitative in scope, it was more of a collection of too good to be true stories.

  18. 4 out of 5

    mz

    Interesting examples of innovative leadership around the world.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Erin Matson

    Essentializing, dated, patronizing. No thank you.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Caitlin

    Not just about women kicking butt and ruling the world. Many of the subjects of this book were not women. This is a really insightful and interesting book giving a survey of different projects, groups, businesses, and government entities that operate differently from the masculine norm and demonstrate how (especially in response to crises) a more feminine approach can be more successful. Gave me a lot to think about.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Sheela

    I really enjoyed the concept of this book, and up until halfway through was actively recommending it to people. However, I think the book suffered from too many in depth examples in its pursuit to show the practice of Athena values worldwide. I was inspired but the Iceland and Israel chapters, but then it was an awkward transition to other European countries and then Asia. Of the Asian examples, I thought the one in Bhutan was the most impactful, but I had gotten bored by the time I made it ther I really enjoyed the concept of this book, and up until halfway through was actively recommending it to people. However, I think the book suffered from too many in depth examples in its pursuit to show the practice of Athena values worldwide. I was inspired but the Iceland and Israel chapters, but then it was an awkward transition to other European countries and then Asia. Of the Asian examples, I thought the one in Bhutan was the most impactful, but I had gotten bored by the time I made it there. Overall a well researched, scholarly or academic look of how feminine values in practice are essential.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Chi-Chi

    This book was a very interesting read. I agree totally that the world needs more of a balance between masculine and feminine principles. I thought the authors did a fine job of presenting examples where cooperation, empathy, and other attributes that are considered feminine lead to a kinder, gentler world where everyone's need can be more closely met. I had one minor complaint about how female African beekeepers were described. I thought it was patronizing and silly. But otherwise, this was a go This book was a very interesting read. I agree totally that the world needs more of a balance between masculine and feminine principles. I thought the authors did a fine job of presenting examples where cooperation, empathy, and other attributes that are considered feminine lead to a kinder, gentler world where everyone's need can be more closely met. I had one minor complaint about how female African beekeepers were described. I thought it was patronizing and silly. But otherwise, this was a good read and I'm excited to see The Athena Doctrine at work more and more.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Heather

    Disappointing. After the introduction, which laid out a somewhat questionable research strategy and outlined the thesis that the authors went on to attempt to prove, the book seemed to consist mostly of feel-good community action stories. Doubtless it took a lot of work to collect these from all over the globe, but it was less rigorous and analytical than I expected. Just didn't deliver as promised.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Joshua Degreiff

    First time I just rating 4/5 stars, because I was looking more extended research, psychology and scientific not first chapter and just skip to examples around the world how men need to apply women thinking. I have to give him credit finally someone is trying to open mind of people who are thinking man is doing the right thing always.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Merany Eldridge

    I'm 75% done with this book and I'm giving myself permission to give up on it. The research behind the book's premise seems poorly executed. It's mostly just a series of fluffy company profiles which are more about values of collaboration and connectivity, then feminine values. It seems to me like these have more to do with the internet and social media than women.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Should have been a 10-page article. Good ideas about how leadership must evolve in today's world, but the book is inflated with 200 pages of tangential anecdotes. Beyond that, the "feminine" label is an adequate way to describe the traits that are important in leadership today, but the authors completely miss the trends (technology + economic + social) that have brought about the change.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Laurie

    Possibly had some interesting and inspiring stories about small companies doing business differently, but I think they forced it into the wrong framework. The idea of masculine and feminine characteristics in leadership was not convincing or well-supported and the authors immediately lost me by relying on really weak correlations to prove their point in the intro. Not recommended.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rahnia

    The introduction was fascinating, but the narratives throughout the book didn't quite deliver. The narratives were not clearly connected to the thesis, and I question whether organization by geographic region was an efficient way to manage the material. Relating each chapter (and its stories) to a specific trait that was identified in the introduction would've been more powerful.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Theodore Kinni

    I don't really buy these books that say that we need more feminine energy to solve the world's problems. I think we do need less aggression and more collaboration, less telling and more listening, etc. - but associating that shift with gender seems like a lot of baloney.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    I'm not sure that the book proves (or even remembers) its own premise. There were interesting stories and ideas that made one think about, and hope for, the future of business in a positive light. It reminded me of a series of Readers' Digest articles.

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