Tuesday was once again a time to celebrate International Women’s Day, but this day is a timely reminder that, despite the achievements of women everywhere, we still face considerable barriers to full participation at work.
Yet some of the barriers are the myths about working women that influence the way the community believes we should behave at work. Now is the time to explore the truths behind those myths and open the pathways for more women to succeed.
At the start of their careers, women and men often have comparable leadership ambitions, with no significant differences in their aspirations.
As they progress through their careers, however, this starts to change. Women report a 60 percent decrease in ambition and a 50 percent decrease in confidence to reach top management. The same study found that men on the other hand, report no change in their aspiration and only a 10 percent decrease in their confidence to reach the top jobs.
Why does this happen? Over time, women with growing career experience report not being able to imagine themselves fitting into the “typical stereotype of success”, not receiving important sponsorship from influential leaders and not being able to access the work and career flexibility they need. These factors combine to wear down women’s aspirations over time.
So it is not more confidence in ourselves that we need, but rather greater support from our employers so that we can feel confident that the workplace will allow us to achieve our ambitions.
One of the great leadership myths is that the best leaders have executive presence. In fact, this idea is rooted in gender bias as traits such as confidence, authority, decisiveness, and assertiveness are more commonly associated with men. When we think “manager we, in fact, think “male”.
When men do things like seek out high-profile projects, network with leaders or make their accomplishments more visible, they are more likely to be rewarded for this behaviour. Women on the other hand are not, in fact, the research shows they are more often than not penalised.
Gender biases in the workplace can unintentionally be embedded into organisational systems and culture and exclude those who do not fit the traditional male leadership model. Women are not making it through to senior leadership positions, not because they are not leadership material, but because they face systemic barriers.
Studies show that women are less likely to request a pay rise than men, but there is a good reason. When women initiate pay negotiations for higher compensation, they are far more likely to be penalised socially than men.—Internet