In country after country, study after study; economists and sociologists have seen that the single best thing a society can do for its overall wellbeing is to improve the status and wellbeing of women. Not to say that we should only do one thing to improve our societies, but if we had to choose only one, this would be the best. When the women of a society thrive, everyone thrives, including men and children. They all thrive economically, sociologically, physically (health-wise), and in other ways. [1]

To the above ways societies thrive when women thrive, I would add that groups with a more balanced mix of both male and female traits and cultural norms resolve differences more often and more easily. It is no accident, no coincidence that Senate women spearheaded resolution of one of our government shutdown crises.

Moreover, gender-balanced groups more often resolve differences in a win-win manner that eliminates, or at least minimizes, the need for compromise. As per my motto, they get more of what they need from one another in ways that build bridges, rather than burning them. More than they would get with a win-lose approach.

In a future post, I’ll explain how this works in greater detail.

For now, let’s look at a few of the factors that improve the status and wellbeing of women:

  • Education: When women have the knowledge and skills to earn a decent living, contribute to the societal economy, and participate in the leadership of their communities, governments and workplaces, the whole group thrives. Of course some women choose to be full-time homemakers, an honorable, but undervalued, profession. When educated women do choose full-time homemaking, the fact that they could earn a decent living on their own gains them respect, influence and equality in their home lives. When marriage is an option, rather than a financial necessity, women can choose, and remain with, only men who treat them well, who help them thrive.

Historically and globally, family size is inversely proportional to wealth and education. These factors are also synergistically related; a change in one causes changes in the others. The poor and uneducated have always tended to have larger families, while the comfortable and educated have smaller families. Conversely, those with smaller families are better able to educate themselves and build wealth, while those with many children to care for are less able to do so. Thus, for some women, part of the education needed is information on how to time and limit the number of children and the advantages of doing so.

  • Birth Control: Even with knowledge and skills, women can only contribute economically and culturally if they can control the number and timing of their children. Their contributions to household incomes (as well as spouses’ contributions) are diluted if they have more children than they can support in a decent manner. Their ability to make cultural contributions is eliminated if childcare eats up all their time, if they are too stressed and exhausted to envision, let alone achieve, anything more than basic survival.

 For women who enter potentially influential professions, such as law, ill-timed pregnancy and family leave can delay or prevent their entry into upper management or politics, where they might better influence the cultural norms for resolving differences. Fortunately for them, lawyers can afford their own birth control and the doctors who prescribe it.

Others may have to choose between doctors and contraceptives, on the one hand, and food, on the other hand. In addition, the poorest of the poor often live miles from the nearest doctor or clinic and can’t afford to travel.

Apart from the effects on individual families, the mushrooming world population contributes to every other global problem—poverty, crime, disease epidemics, pollution and other environmental issues, water scarcity, diminishing of non-renewable fossil fuels, etc. The population is growing like a pyramid scheme, a pyramid that cannot continue indefinitely without some type of global collapse.

  • Legal and Cultural Equality: This category includes things such as—
    • Equal pay for equal work.
    • Equal pay for comparable work. This means that female-majority professions earn comparable incomes to male-majority professions that require similar levels of education and talent.
    • In some countries, equality would include eliminating hindrances such as laws or cultural norms forbidding women to drive (hard to work or make cultural contributions outside the home if you can’t get there) or to show their faces in public (psychologically easier to ignore or mistreat faceless, shapeless swaths of cloth than it is to mistreat people identifiable as individual human beings).
    • In the United States, cultural equality would, for example, include elimination of the win-lose norms that facilitate mistreatment of women who enter male-majority professions.

In my coaching practice, I have seen situations in which men drove women out of a workplace by misusing the very laws meant to prevent this. For example, I know of at least two instances in which an especially talented woman engineer was driven out of a job when an envious male coworker started a false rumor that she intended to file a sexual harassment complaint. Others took up the cause to ostracize her and see that she received only unappealing and low profile work projects. They made her so miserable that she eventually resigned. Women engineers who actually do file EEOC complaints sometimes have to move far out of state in order to get another position.

  • The above are only a few of many, many legal and cultural norms that prevent women, and thus the societies they belong to, from thriving as they might.

We can grow societies where everyone wins economically, sociologically, and healthwise. We can grow societies that achieve win-win dispute resolutions more easily and more often. Even better, we can move beyond mere resolution to pro-active, creative breakthroughs in human agreements and joint decisions.

Individuals can do this in their own lives by studying, practicing and assimilating skills such as those I present in this blog, my books, and my training, coaching and consulting.

Societies can do this by improving the status and wellbeing of women through education, birth control and legal and cultural equality.

I’ll elaborate in future posts in this series, so please stay tuned.

[1] Just a few of many, many examples of such findings: Facts and Figures: Economic Empowerment, UN Women,; Economic Empowerment of Women, Almaz Negash, Santa Clara University,; Education of women and socio-economic development, Geeta Gandhi Kingdon,