Star Wars and the awakening of female leadership

January 26, 2016 | CNN Expansion

Spoiler alert: This note can be very revealing for those who have not seen the movie.
The latest Star Wars saga, has not only been the highest grossing movie but also has left most fans very happy; it also brings to the table an issue: gender equality.

Why? All thanks to the leading role.

King is a young lady inhabiting the planet Jakku. Her fate changed after the meeting with BB-8, a droid from the Resistance who has clues to the location of Jedi Master Luke Skywalker, who has disappeared.

Throughout the plot, King manages to save her life and unwittingly ends up being part of the resistance against the Dark Side. Moreover, this young woman has a natural ability to handle weapons, driving and repairing aircraft, something that other leading roles of the saga had never done. In a nutshell, she manages to get inside a world that had been generally male.

Yes, King is the first Jedi woman. Perhaps this will sound familiar to many CEOs, entrepreneurs, directors and executives who thrive in a work environment where it has been traditionally predominantly and dominated by men.

Why link the seventh episode of Star Wars with the working world?

Today, women represent 52% of the workforce in the United States. However, only 14.6% hold senior management positions, 4.6% are CEO’s and 16% are part of the board of directors of the companies in the Fortune 500, according to the latest The Women's Leadership Gap.

In Mexico, about 1% of women are CEO, according to the list of 'The 500' Expansion and only 5.3% are board directors of companies, according to a study by the firm Credit Suisse.

"King is a woman who can fix an aircraft, fire weapons. In essence, she is in the battlefield and not behind it, "explains Ana Pérez Cristo, Operations Director for Victoria 147, an accelerator specialized in businesses founded by women." This is what actually happens in the workplace, we see women who are out there, dealing with suppliers, who are going to the mountains or working at the maquilas ".

The truth is that King has caused controversy, especially in social networks. Some say that the leading role is simply a 'Mary Sue', a character in excess idealized and openly identifiable as the alter-ego of the author; because they cannot fathom why a woman could so easily handle the lightsaber that belonged to Anakin and Luke Skywalker, and thus concluding that the main character is more manly. "That's not feminism, it is making women more manly", said a Facebook user. "Should she be having children as in the prequels?" Replied one fan of Star Wars.

But others defend the commitment to show a heroine who does not need a prince to rescue her.

"This is not about making a person more masculine or more feminine, but to adapt to the workplace, to speak the same language as everyone in that organization," says Larry Rubin, consultant to executive recruiting firm DHR International.

King does work as a team and together with Chewbacca pilot the Millennium Falcon, Han Solo’s aircraft, the inseparable partner of the Wookie. "Today's work environments are different," says Rubin. “So that is why it is no longer important where a person comes from, or whether they are male or female”, he adds.

For example, in Victoria 147, 70% of mentors are men and the rest are women. Perez Cristo, it’s COO, believes that gender diversity is very positive, because men often encourage women to achieve their goals while guiding the women from their own experiences in leadership roles.

So that is the way it happens with one of the mentors of King, Maz Kanata, whom Lupita Nyong'o gives voice, is a female pirate who has lived more than 1,000 years. Although it is unclear if she has been chosen by the Force, she senses the potential in King. "When a woman executive has a mentor it is important, because she can understand situations that may face her in the workplace, because they have gone through the same thing as her."
It remains to be seen how the Jedi woman will develop. Meanwhile, it is clear that the Force be with her, like many women in the business world.

Read this article on CNN Expansion.