Lipstick Project Management and Liberia

I caught Inside Africa over the weekend and heard Swanee Hunt, a Harvard Women and Public Policy Program researcher, talk about the role Liberian President Ellen Johnson -Sirleaf plays in promoting women’s participation in government. Hunt stated that the President is adopting a feminine approach to her first months as a government official by including a consultation period in her 150-day plan.
I have believed for a long time that men and women approach problems differently, but I wouldn’t consider consultation to be particularly feminine. There is no better or worse gendered approach than any other; we just use our strengths. I have seen women use a variety of styles when managing projects in the various environments I have worked in. You can be tough or gentle. From the moment we are born, we learn how we can get what we want and make it seem like someone else’s idea. All fabulous skills for lipstick project managers. What is a lipstick project manager? I have never seen a man use this approach.
Before a difficult steering group meeting, she slicks on lipstick to match her newly-pressed power-dressing outfit
To resolve issues quickly, she flirts with her Sponsor
Uses the ‘blonde cloak’ to ask seemingly stupid questions to clarify requirements and get at the root of the problem.

It is essentially a win-win situation.
Female project managers can also have many other skills – talent and hard work are what get us to where we are, not Maybelline – but I have never considered it a disadvantage to being a woman. With President Sirleaf’s openness and willingness to make changes, Liberian women will be able to take an active part in the management of their country.