Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Looking to Right-hand Women: Strategies for Shaping Impactful Paths in Business


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2016 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, p. 542, ISSN 1559-8918,

PechaKucha—This visual ethnography explores the hypothesis that some women in business subvert traditional power relationships by using existing stereotypes and all other tools at their disposal to become “right-hand women.” Drawing from examples of famous women in business and quotes from qualitative interviews with women from the U.S., Mexico and Colombia, “Looking to Right-Hand Women” tells the story of how some successful, intelligent women across several countries play a behind-the-scenes role in business, strategically impacting and influencing men in leadership positions to directly shape decision-making, and ultimately the path the business takes. Through the lens of navigating the highly nuanced challenges of operating as a woman in today’s business world, this visual ethnography uncovers effective strategies for building trust and effecting change in the face of complex power dynamics. These strategies could potentially be applied by consultants and internal change agents at large corporations to build trust and effect change as well.

Keywords: Women in business, change management, trust building, pathmaking, change agent, consulting

Natalia Silva is an Operations and Account Manager based in Bogota, Colombia at Insitum, a strategic research and innovation consultancy. Until recently, Hannah Pick worked with Natalia at Insitum as well. Hannah is now the Director of Design Research for McGraw-Hill Education International & Professional and is based in Chicago, Illinois.