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The Athena Doctrine: How Women (and the Men Who Think Like Them) Will Rule the Future Hardcover – April 16, 2013

3.8 out of 5 stars 24 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Q & A with with coauthors John Gerzema and Michael D'Antonio

John Gerzema
John Gerzema
What are "feminine values" and why do you see them on the rise today?

We asked 64,000 women and men in 13 countries to classify 125 human traits--half of the sample by gender and the other half by which are most important to leadership, success, morality, and happiness today. They consistently picked what they considered "feminine traits" or values--such as selflessness, empathy, collaboration, flexibility, and patience--as the most important.

The majority also rejected masculine notions of control, aggression, and black-and-white thinking that underlie many of our business, political, and social structures. And two-thirds thought the world would be a better place if men thought more like women.

What's driving this shift, and why is it important that we learn about it now?

Technology, the financial crisis and globalization mean we live in a world that's increasingly social, interdependent, and transparent. Also, young people around the world don't see differences older generations do--we found that Millennials of both genders have a much stronger appreciation of femininity and the role of women in their society.

We want to make clear that we're not saying women are "born this way" or that they are "naturally" more empathetic or open. Rather, these are skills that have been traditionally segregated or labeled as part of women's domain, and often are undervalued, when in truth, being "feminine" actually make all people more human, and helps them become the best version of themselves. These skills will help people match the needs of the future economy. In a collaborative world where value creation is increasingly based on services, economic growth and standard of living are enhanced by including feminine values. In our surveys, 81% of people said that man or woman, you need both masculine and feminine traits to thrive in today's world. It's a big, global value shift, and it's gaining momentum.

What should businesses and government leaders learn and apply from this book?

"The Athena Doctrine" is our name for an emerging form of leadership that is ideally suited to a rapidly changing world. We've had people tell us that this is a great book for women, but it's equally, if not more importantly, for men. Business and politics are built on aggression, control, conflict and command. These models are losing currency fast. Shimon Peres put it this way to us: "We are in a new season with many old minds, and the task is to adapt yourself. The modern leader is here to serve."

We traveled the world to find examples of how leaders in every kind of organization are already applying the tenets of the Athena Doctrine. Inspiring, innovative models are everywhere, and we found some of the best.

Are these tenets just for leaders, or can ordinary people apply them in their own lives and work?

The tenets-based on the traits that we found were most highly correlated with success, morality, and happiness-are widely applicable to daily life. We had this amazing experience traveling around the world to find stories of people leading and solving problems in business, politics, and every realm of life. We met a doctor from Pakistan whose vulnerability disarmed (and charmed) his colleagues in the ego-driven world of medical research. We visited a city farm in east London where underprivileged kids taught investment bankers about beekeeping and the lessons of responsible risk-taking. We met ordinary citizens in Japan who rose to their highest levels of humanity to help others after the tragic earthquake and tsunami.

These values are broadly applicable to anyone in everyday life. We found that people who are thinking in a more feminine way are twice as optimistic about their future. If we can all tap into our feminine side, we'll be better, happier, and stronger-both individually and collectively.

What do you hope to achieve with this book?

We're both dads in all female households with three beautiful daughters between us. We are excited about what we found because feminine values are really a form of innovation and competitive advantage for today's world. The proceeds of our book benefit the United Nations Campaign's Girl Up program and we aim to include men and boys in this very important discussion.


“Captivating... a fascinating case study of human nature, this book provides insight into future world leaders.”
—Publishers Weekly

"With a wealth of data and even richer stories from around the world, The Athena Doctrine offers convincing proof that the future requires us to embrace traits and values traditionally linked to women. Leave it to two fathers of daughters to show us how men and women alike are using empathy and collaboration to solve problems big and small. If you care about leadership, creativity, and the world of tomorrow, you must read this book."
—Arianna Huffington, president and editor-in-chief, The Huffington Post

"The Athena Doctrine is a powerful book. Extraordinary research. Great story telling. A message both timely and of monumental importance."
—Tom Peters, leadership guru and bestselling author, In Search of Excellence

"Goddess of both craft and wisdom, patron of Odysseus, and inspiration for legions of smart girls, Athena is an icon for our times. The Athena Doctrine offers a gender-neutral approach to embracing a set of values that underpin a new generation of innovation based on connection and creativity. It is an optimistic and energizing book."
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, professor of politics and international affairs, Princeton University; former director of policy planning, U.S. Department of State

"The Athena Doctrine offers more than ample evidence of the rebalance needed in global leadership. Painstakingly researched and documented, with interviews of amazing people all over the world, the ideas in this book will influence the leaders of tomorrow and, more importantly, make the case for more women leaders."
—Pat Mitchell, president and CEO, the Paley Center for Media; curator, TEDxWomen

“Rich in data and stories from around the world, this fresh analysis will certainly provoke healthy debate in the workplace and hopefully smash through a few glass ceilings.”
—Tina Brown, Editor-in-Chief, Daily Beast and Newsweek

“…this is a book for everyone, and I have no doubt that your life and your work will be enriched by reading it.”
—Jack Covert, 800-CEORead


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Jossey-Bass; 1 edition (April 16, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 111845295X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1118452950
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #193,586 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Jonathan Gifford on August 18, 2013
Format: Hardcover
This is a clever and interesting book that makes a valuable contribution to the vital debate about how we should build the organisations of the future (since our current organisational structures are clearly failing). So criticising the book seems perverse and small-minded - like taking a pop at Mother Theresa. But I can't help myself. So: this is an interesting book and I urge you to read it, but...

My first problem is that I have an aversion to the approach that takes an interesting idea and tries to turn it into a programme or, indeed, a doctrine - so much so that if a young entrepreneur were to tell me that they were starting a new venture and that it was a, like, you know, Athena Doctrine kind of thing? I would be obliged to poke them in the eye. Which would not be very Athena Doctrine of me.

But I have some more grown up quibbles too. My main issue is that I really do not think that it is useful to attach a label of any kind to sets of valuable human characteristics - like empathy, creativity, intuition, adaptability etc. In the case of the 'Athena Doctrine', of course, the label that Gerzema and D'Antonio have attached to these and other valuable characteristics is 'feminine'. Since they themselves argue later in the book that we should attempt take a 'gender neutral' approach to people, it's hard to see why they think that it is useful to say, in effect, that we should all get in touch with our feminine side.

Funnily enough, the authors recount in their introduction how they ran their ideas past a female academic who 'scrunched up her face like a professor listening to a student offering a terrible answer' and concluded, "I object to you calling these things feminine." I'm on her side. But the guys went ahead and did it anyway.
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By SAS on April 16, 2013
Format: Hardcover
Starting from the premise that people have lost faith in many of the major institutions in society - government and big business in particular - institutions which happen to be built in a male-oriented paradigm - the authors quite insightfully diagnose that the underlying values that have led to this collapse in trust happen also to be ones that people across cultures identify as male. The solution follows naturally, and is backed up by overwhelming data - namely that we need to evolve to a more balanced male/female approach to leadership, government, and even morality. But what is even more compelling is the enormous and cross-cultural range of stories that illustrate how this can play out in every sphere. The whole approach is really very different from the many books documenting the rise of women in society, and instead is about a new set of values and principles that are on the rise, embodied in a whole new class of male and female leaders. If you are in any kind of leadership position, or want to understand what the attributes of success and happiness are in today's world and tomorrow's, this truly is a must-read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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 my 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 with 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.
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Format: Hardcover
Tedious, tired writing that assigns emotions or behaviors as either feminine or masculine .... and guess what, folks -- all the negative emotions or behaviors are masculine. Yawn. How about a kinder world with equal opportunity for all instead of bashing one gender? How about not putting one gender on a pedestal just because they are that gender? The way the argument is structured, if you disagree or question it -- guess what folks (again) ... you must be gender-biased.

This books just seems so outdated and biased itself that it doesn't add anything to the real goal of equal opportunity for everyone based on merit and skills.
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