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Dr Heli Inkinen

Gender and coaching

Theme: Coaching in context
Area: Coaching
Type: Research & how it could be applied in practice

Session on Friday, Jul 8th, 13:50
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Dr Heli Inkinen (formerly Aaltonen) lives in Finland and in Belgium. She has a PhD in Theology and has been supervising and training since 1999, and working working with organisation dynamics since 2001. This is mostly as a part of her work as the Executive Secretary of Education in the Archdiocese of Turku, Finland. In 2012 she founded her company Coaching by Heli, in 2014 she completed a Coach of Leaders and Teams (CCLT®) course. In 2015 she left her main work to concentrate on her postdoctoral research as well as coaching and supervising in Finland and in Belgium. Since January 2016 she is a member of the EMCC Belgium.


This research is a comparative study concerning the significance of gender in coaching in Finland and in other European countries.

The majority of professional coaches assumes that being professional means denying your gender. I propose that an awareness of the coach concerning the large scale of significance of gender in a coaching process is crucial for successful results. Professional coaching and clinical supervision in Finland have stayed nearly untouched by the feminist research. Coaches who work with gender know-how and gender sensibility produce more satisfied employees and managers in work organisations.

My aim has been to research how gender, age, education, traditions, religion, place of residence, correlate with gender awareness and gender related practices in a coaching process of a professional coach or a clinical supervisor. I sent a survey to the 1,800 members of the Finnish Supervisors’ Association, to the 400 supervisors of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and to the 5,000+ members of the EMCC. I also interviewed 21 coaches/supervisors. The interviewees have also kept a diary of their observations concerning gender during two months. Finally, I analysed the material with an intersectional method known from gender research.

Statistically 80% of the coaches in the Finnish Supervisors’ Association, 60 % of the Church supervisors and EMCC coaches are women and a majority of their clients are women, mostly from the health and social sectors and the church. The clients of EMCC-coaches come mainly from private sector. Quite few of the coaches/ supervisors are aware of the significance of gender in their praxis. Gender awareness and gender know-how should be added to every coach and supervisor training in Europe. In my view we still have many areas in science and work life, where being a professional means to deny your gender.

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