What a man can do a woman can do better. I trust in this saying. Not because I am a woman but because it is true. Yes, we all do have strengths and weakness, and the differences we exhibit are what makes life interesting. For instance, psychology suggests that while a man is made to excel in exact sciences a woman excels in social sciences due to her ability to recognize patterns. Therefore if we can all venture into different areas that we are passionate about and co-exist just fine, what makes women face more challenges in leadership?
- Gender stereotypes
These are people who believe that certain roles are predetermined and natural for men as opposed to women. A report from the Encyclopedia of leadership states that “ Gender roles are instead socially constructed classifications that are inspired and furthered by the overarching influence of patriarchy within society, communities, and families. It is thus imperative that these fundamental, patriarchal classification schemes are challenged and deconstructed.”
Ask Rita Okuthe and she will tell you that through her experience, the one thing that she has noticed inhibiting women from becoming leaders, is the reluctance to speak up. This emanates from the lack of confidence or fear of being rejected. That is why she suggests that when an opportunity arises and you are sure you can handle it raise up your hand. If you’re not sure, keep your hand up. You shall figure it out as you progress.
Another challenge is the confidence in one’s skills accomplishments and success. Women tend to shrink their voice by downplaying their achievements so as not to seem intimidating. However, this can be dangerous as it delays the ability of people to take you seriously despite your experiences.
From the difference in salaries to age. This issue is prominent across different industries in the world. For instance, it is common knowledge that women do not receive the same compensation as men in the same industry. This can be demoralizing discouraging women from pursuing life-changing careers in their lives. on the other hand, there’s discrimination when a woman is treated differently due to her age or appearance yet she has the intelligence and competence.
- Glass ceiling
A glass ceiling is an invisible barrier which disallows women from progressing in their career once they attain a certain point. It doesn’t happen to an individual, rather a group of women who encounter subtle obstacles based on stereotypes creating these stumbling blocks for women in the organization. This glass ceiling is majorly caused by occupational segregation. Such that executive positions remain gender segregated and the women who manage to reach these positions are assigned in fields like public relations, finance or marketing. This is not bad. However, these positions rarely lead to top management ranks since they’re not business mainstreams. Also due to the vast under-representation of women in top leadership positions, women in these positions are glorified which only increases the effect of the glass ceiling.
Forbes reports that garnering support from fellow women or even men can be challenging. Especially for someone who is re-entering the work scene after a long hiatus. It can be hard to garner the needed support since it requires you to fighting your way through stereotypes, sexists, ageism rebuilding a new network and even renewing skills. It also doesn’t help when the old boys’ network is dominating the top positions. This is a group of men who share similarities in different aspects like education, schools attended, and hence try to maintain a knit group by promoting individuals who are like them.
Therefore, it is necessary for us women to support each other if we want to shake and turn these tables. This means setting aside our difference and grievances towards the system, even though we’ve gone through similar experiences in the past.
Featured image via Telegraph