Renaissance Women, like Renaissance Men, are driven by a sort of inner compass to push ever outward, to swallow life whole, to challenge themselves to gain mastery in many things because all of those things inspire them. These are the women who learn five languages for the sheer fun of it, read books on philosophy because it intrigues them, start their own businesses, then branch into speaking and writing, and love to rock climb too. This is not because they feel compelled to prove themselves in a man’s world, on the contrary, it is their need to be all that they are, to not feel bound by the limits imposed by their education or by society, that drive them.
How does a RenWoman differ from a Renaissance man? First of all, there are many ways in which the two are exactly alike. As one would define a Renaissance man as someone who has expressed expertise in a number of areas, so would this apply to a Renaissance woman. The book Beyond Genius (W.Scott Griffiths & Eric Elfman) defines many of the traits of Renaissance men, such as creativity, passion, persistence, curiosity, challenging the status quo and the courage to take risks, and these certainly pertain to RenWomen, as well. But there are differences sometimes in the way women manifest the "Ren" traits and there are additional traits that RenWomen often bring to the table.
For a RenWoman, in the past, for example, having the courage to take risks, might be more about risking one’s reputation, or allowing oneself to be scorned or marginalized for choices that run counter to the strictures of society. Being creative might be indeed be writing or painting, but it might also be creating a salon where intellectuals gather, or creating a new way of thinking about the rights of women. Expertise in many arenas will, more often than not, include motherhood and managing a household as two of those numerous arenas.
Although certainly modern RenWomen have less societal barriers in their path, they still often manifest the traits in more female-centric ways. And certainly they bring their female values to bear in the expression of their Renaissance-ness. So traits such as compassion, communication, flexibility, collaboration, and the importance of family are vital traits that RenWomen bring to their impact on the workplace and the world.
Can we all be Renaissance Women (or Renaissance Men?) Probably not. But we can learn from them, understand how they have achieved what they have, and be inspired by their stories in a way that can help us remove arbitrary limits in our lives.
And for those who aspire to be RenWomen? Carry on! And let the women we feature in RenWomen: What Modern Renaissance Women Have to Teach Us About Living Rich, Full Lives be a powerful inspiration and guide!