Women case writers won 50% of our awards this year, while 31% percent of all case protagonists were female.
This is an important breakthrough and I look forward to these statistics sustaining and improving in future years.
Diversity of approach, protagonists, scenarios, and authors expresses The Case Centre’s mission of supporting and developing the case method. Assisting and recognising the work of underrepresented categories of case writers or protagonists is an important part of that.
Lesley Symons, a long-standing friend of ours with whom we have worked in making our data available for research into the portrayal of women in case studies, has recently published an update in the latest edition of Global Focus. Ivey Publishing also ran a webinar on the subject here.
But cases must also be truthful in representing the reality of what the author has uncovered. One must be careful not to write cases that reflect an idealised picture of what we want business to be, rather than how it is. Cases, I think, can act as a kind of canary in the coal mine by raising the alarm about discrimination in the workplace. If we, so to speak, teach the canary to hold its breath and sing a different song, that may be more pleasant but baffles the alarm.
And cases must also be seen in context of class discussion in the classroom. More than simply an opportunity, there is a responsibility on case teachers to address the underlying structural, conscious, and unconscious discriminations that result in the underrepresentation of women and other groups. Some of these apply to case writers and their choice of scenarios and protagonists. Others are deeply imbedded within the structures of workplaces at all levels, of all types, around the world.
It is our responsibility to wrestle with the issue of updating and upgrading our approach to case writing, while also holding true to the strengths of the case method in confronting students in discussing difficult issues.