Women in Leadership Traits Debunked
The debate about women being better leaders in corporate American continues to rage on. The need for more female leaders has never been more critical, and there is a never-ending catalogue of data to support this claim.
Let’s begin with the Fortune 500. Women CEOs make up 6.4% of the Fortune 500 list in America. The companies that boast a higher representation of women on their boards, notably outperform the organisation that don’t.
So why do women miss out on leadership roles?
Sexism, veiled or overt, holds professional women back. Sexual harassment, inequitable work environments, and subtler forms of sexism place a huge burden on professional women working toward their goals. For example, when professional women constantly get interrupted or mistaken for administrative assistants at board meetings, it takes a mental toll that can stall their progress.
Gender bias and stereotyping
Gender biases and stereotyping work against professional women’s leadership aspirations. Employers tend to interpret men’s assertive behavior in the workplace as strong, commanding, and direct, but when women display the same assertiveness, their employers often see them as aggressive, pushy, and shrill.
If a female professional’s behavior doesn’t align with gender stereotypes, then she often faces backlash. However, if her behavior jibes with traditional gender roles, such as being accommodating or looking out for the best interest of others before their own, she may risk coming across as less competitive than her male counterparts.
Less assertive tactics when seeking promotions
Perhaps women tend to use less assertive tactics when seeking promotions out of a concern they could encounter gender bias and stereotyping. Nonetheless, the failure to self-advocate a well-deserved raise or promotion slows professional women’s rise to higher levels of leadership.
Historical sexism and gender bias have resulted in structural barriers that serve as obstacles to women trying to climb the rungs of the corporate ladder.
Limited access to established networks
Social activities, formal and informal, such as golf or happy hours, too often leave professional women out, not because women wouldn’t join but because men don’t invite them. In turn, professional women miss opportunities to build the rapport and relationships responsible for career advancement.
Professional women often face significant challenges balancing work and family. Their family responsibilities can limit their ability to pursue leadership positions. That’s because despite the fact they have full-time jobs, they also frequently have the lion’s share of household responsibilities, such as caring for young, sick, or elderly family members.
There is no doubt that women in the working world have their challenges. The important thing to remember is that women need additional support to ensure they get a fair chance to go for leadership roles. This often starts with self analysis, sacrifice and vision. Let’s help women by giving them space to have these conversations.