24 Jan Female leadership 2
This is a book partly about women’s experience of leadership, but far more than that. Karin Jironet is a psychoanalyst who has specialised in working with women in their relations to power, leadership and responsibility. She explores these issues with great insight and clarity through the analogue of Dante’s Purgatory. The analogy works well: Dante, guided by Virgil and inspired by Beatrice, journeys through seven levels of purgatory, each characterised by the need to reconcile a sin and a virtue: pride and humility, envy and generosity, anger and gentleness, and so forth. There is a chapter on each, with intriguing accounts from psychoanalytic encounters, original exegeses of myths and stories, and insightful commentary on leadership in the contemporary world. There is no idealisation of ‘female leadership’, but it is refreshing and provocative to read a book in which all the examples are women, and the explorations of sloth, greed, gluttony, lust (etc) are pursued in the experiences of women leaders. At the heart of this is a profound understanding of the symbolism of ‘the female’, beautifully written to invite generous, humble – perhaps even chaste and charitable – responses.