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Lioness Experts: Jodi Detjen

In this video interview, Jodi Detjen discusses her latest book, "The Next Smart Step," and how women can combat feelings of inadequacy.

Jodi Detjen has been interested in “how we [women] get more power” since she was a kid. She has advocated for women’s empowerment since her teenage years when she and her aunt debated the subject. “I’ve always called myself a feminist with pride,” she said.

Today, she is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Orange Grove Consulting, a women’s leadership training consultancy based in Newton Centre, MA. She offers consulting advice, workshops and training for companies in an effort to help them promote gender inclusivity. She also serves as Associate Professor of Practice and MBA Academic Program Director at Suffolk University. Her first book, “The Orange Line: A Woman’s Guide to Integrating Career, Family, and Life,” which she co-wrote with Michelle A. Waters and Kelly Watson, was published in 2013. She and Watson have again teamed up for their latest book, “The Next Smart Step: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes and Build a Stronger Organization,” available now.

How women doubt themselves

One of Detjen’s main goals is to help professional women challenge their own self-judgements. She notes that female entrepreneurs often experience imposter syndrome in their careers. KPMG LLP recently released a study that showed that “three-fourths of women executives have experienced imposter syndrome and believe they put more pressure on themselves to succeed than men.” According to Detjen, cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of therapy that encourages healthy thought patterns, is one of the most effective methods to help women challenge these self-judgements. “Once you identify some of these beliefs or assumptions, and you see them for what they are, you can change your narrative about them,” Detjen said. “The key is to name [the self-judgement] to give yourself space so you can see it and then reframe it.”

Drawing from personal experience

Detjen herself is not immune to these anxieties. When she had her second child, she began to really feel the strains of being a working mom. “I got caught up in this ideal stereotype of motherhood here in the United States as defined, which is you’re supposed to be all in and give everything up,” Detjen said. “And I didn’t like it very much. I sort of crashed and burned, and figured out a way out back to where I wanted to be.” She knew she was not alone in feeling the pressures of motherhood and professional life. “The Orange Line” explored the difficulties women experience when creating a healthy work-life balance by illustrating the experiences of more than 100 professional women.  

Breaking patterns of stereotypes

A central theme explored in “The Next Smart Step” is the way organizations perpetuate a pattern of outdated gender stereotypes and how to successfully break that pattern. “Contrary to what I thought, which was that people bring in these masculinized views of what leadership should be, a lot of times what they’re doing is simply enacting what’s already there,” Detjen said. “And because the organization has been developed in this masculine way… they just perpetuate it without questioning, again, these underlying assumptions. So the book really exposes all this stuff and then talks about a way forward in a very practical way.”

In Detjen’s mind, social justice movements that have gained prevalence within the past few years, such as #MeToo and Black Lives Matter, have highlighted the need for companies to rethink their existing structures. Detjen’s goal is to teach these companies effective skills to increase inclusion and amplify marginalized voices. “As organizations get better and better at measuring [inclusion practices]… it’s going to be a lot easier for you to see that a manager doesn’t have these skill sets,” Detjen said. “So we need to give them to them, we need to train them. We don’t need to sit there and yell at them, we need to say ‘you don’t have the skills. Let’s give you the skills.'”

In this video, Detjen discusses how to combat feelings of inadequacy, why women should embrace delegation and what the color orange symbolizes in her work.

About the author

Nicole DeSimone

Nicole DeSimone is a writer based in the Boston area. She earned a B.A. in English and Journalism from Simmons University. In addition to reading and writing, she loves dance, nature walks, and old movies. You can always email her at nicole.desimone4@gmail.com.

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