For centuries men and women (have) had very distinct roles in society and business: men were the ones supposed to make money, women were the ones supposed to take care of the children and the household. Such sexual stereotypes have guided the course of society and even today in some cases (and countries and cultures) they still do.
But things have changed. Women are now able to pursue the same career opportunities as men, however when it comes to the workplace it is more than apparent that even if women are just as capable as men doing the very same job they do not reach the leadership positions.
Some may call such inequality in the boardroom total discrimination and injustice, rooted in misconceptions and prejudices passed down over generations where women are seen as week and sensitive.
It is very difficult to dig into the reasons why there are a lot less women in leadership positions than men. It is a fact, however, that there exist serious gender inequities and massive pay gaps between sexes. According to research, women hold only 14 percent of the board seats at S&P 1500 companies. Female graduates in the same job positions earn a lot less than their male counterparts despite laws designed to ensure equal access to careers and pay.
Are women only supposed to stay home and take care of the family? Can’t women and men have equal responsibilities both at work and at home? Why are successful women at the top seen as scrupulous, unemotional, heartless creatures? Is it bad to have women in leadership roles in business and society as well?
A lot of research and books have been published on the topic analysing the reasons and suggesting what could be done to encourage gender equality. It is, in my opinion, the mindset of people, men and women, that needs to change.
And at the end of the day, it is up to us, women, to take the first and most importantly the right steps. It is up to us to put ourselves out there and prove our worth and get ahead.
Which is why I encourage you to seek challenges, take risks, believe in yourself and your capabilities, trust your instincts, make tough choices and always follow your own dreams and goals, them being a career, a family or both! Go and make a difference, every day!
As a first step, here’s what you can do today: watch this video below carefully. It’s a TED talk that Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, gave three years ago! Since then not much has changed: it is still a fact that a smaller percentage of women than men reach the top of their professions. But that’s not the reason why you should watch the video. Watch it for the powerful advice she gives and the amazing way she presents it. It’s a truly motivational talk for women who are aiming for the C-suite because as it turns out women unintentionally hold themselves back from leadership positions in their careers.
So, what do you think? Did the talk inspire you?
It had an empowering and electrifying effect on me. If it did so for you too, you might consider reading Sheryl Sandberg’s brand new book about women in leadership - Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. I just purchased it on my Kindle as my next step towards making a real difference. In the book Facebook COO “explores why women’s progress in achieving leadership roles has stalled, explains the root causes, and offers compelling, commonsense solutions that can empower women to achieve their full potential.” It sure sounds exciting to me and I can’t wait to read it!
What are you going to do today to change tomorrow?
Image courtesy of chanpipat/FreeDigitalPhotos.net