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  • Writer's pictureGunjan Syal

The Artemis Generation & Women Leaders

Updated: Nov 22, 2022

Artemis 1 take off on Wed Nov 16 2022

One of the most exciting events in our lifetimes occurred when Artemis 1 took flight on Wednesday Nov 16, 2022. This is an important event in the human history because Artemis program promises to revive the goal of expanding human civilization to the Moon and beyond, to Mars! If you are also obsessed with it's goal, you can read more about it here. The data which the Orion module brings back to the Earth will be unparalleled and heavily focused on enabling future human flights to the Moon, including a way-station to Mars.

There are a lot of 'firsts' within the Artemis program from both STEM and leadership perspectives:

  1. Artemis 1 is the most powerful rocket launched successfully to-date.

  2. This powerful rocket launch had NASA's first female launch director, Charlie Blackwell-Thompson, at the helm.

  3. To top it all, Artemis program aims to land the first woman and the first person of colour on the Moon.

At a personal level, watching Charlie Blackwell-Thompson have her tie cut on live TV after the launch took the cake for many reasons. The words 'Artemis Generation' were introduced and reassured me at a deeper level - implying that this will be the norm. You see, I was removed from my condo board earlier in the week. The removal is not the reason this incident weighed on mind. I was also the only female board member on a team of 10 members throughout the pandemic and the year prior. Now, there are none. I was removed because I missed 3 meetings while dealing with a personal matter, and the bylaws stated that I must be removed. The board traditions had to be followed. It is unsettling to know that women have no representation on the board where I live. It was not always this way either - it appeared to be a giant step backwards.

Throughout the pandemic, I had the opportunity to observe many small, medium and large organizations. I also worked on leadership principles that make some boards and teams more successful than others. When we look deeper, there are many traditions and procedures that require a review post-pandemic for inclusion and success it brings.

Inclusion enables success. Most organizations want to invite more diversity on their boards to accomplish this. However, a deeper context is missing when enabling inclusion.

Often, we look at the high-level data and statistics about the board representation and make decisions. When I review my time volunteered on the condo board as a case study, I see the missing context. I first joined the board 6+ years ago. At that time, 4 out of 10 members were women. Together, the female leadership brought 95+ years of combined experience to the board. I recall female leadership bringing strategic vision to a mostly operational board. One female leader championed updating of our bylaws and created a residents' manual to curb repeat issues faced by the management team. Most of this was supplemental to her usual board duties. The hours of dedication and effort shined from her work when the number of incidents that the management received in following years dropped significantly.

Over time, 2 of the female leaders left due to health issues. Another left to balance a business and caring for a sick parent. That left me as the solo female representation on the board even prior to the pandemic. The fact is that my condo board failed to attract and retain women repeatedly. This is a very common issue on the boards. I accept my portion of responsibility in this failure as well. P