Tag Archives: Equality for Women

Heart candies - it's not me it's you

 

A report from Bain and Company explores frontline managers and their impact on women’s career aspirations.  What the study brings to light is that a significant number of women have nearly the same story. At the start of their careers women are ambitious and confident. As they progress and attempt to work their way towards the C-suite they gradually begin to lose confidence. What’s the confidence killer? Well, that can partially be blamed on the lack of women in upper management to serve as examples as well as working for direct supervisors who are of little help. 

All that ambition you’ve got… it’ll last about 2 years.

The study shows that 43% of women aspire to top management when they are in the first two years of their position, compared with 34% of men at that stage.  Wow, look at how ambitious we are. It’s not surprising that fresh out of school we are bright eyed and bushy tailed. We’re equally confident as men. We aim for top management and are ready to kick ass and take names to get there.

But then…

Over time, women’s aspiration levels drop more than 60% while men’s stay the same. Among experienced employees (those with two or more years of experience), 34% of men are still aiming for the top, while only 16% of women are.

To be frank, the “It’s not me. It’s you.” statement above isn’t completely fair. Understandably, sometimes this drop off occurs as women get older and start putting more emphasis on marrying and having children. What’s interesting is that the study’s findings suggest that marital and parental status do not significantly differ for women who aspire and women who don’t. The picture improves only slightly for more senior female employees.

What’s happening?

As far as education, the population of women seeking higher education continues to grow. Currently, women account for more than half of all college graduates and are earning approximately 40% of all MBAs. Yet our numbers at the top of the corporate hierarchy remain abysmal. Women number only a slim 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs and 17% of board members.

For women the confidence gap is real and not simply because we don’t believe in ourselves. We don’t believe in our leadership or our companies to make this issue a top priority.  Women, just don’t believe they have an equal opportunity to advance. There are three critical areas that help incite this feeling of inequity: a clash with the stereotype of the ideal worker, a lack of supervisory support and too few role models in senior-level positions.

To sum it up, too many women believe their supervisors don’t know where they are in their career aspirations, aren’t supportive or don’t know what to say or do to support them. The end result is a decrease in employee engagement and loyalty and missed opportunities to develop female talent (all bad for business if you ask me).

To read more on the study  and suggested remedies click here

As most of you know, I’m a Sheryl Sandberg fan and have reviewed her book, Lean In on the blog. So when it was announced yesterday that Sandberg had launched a campaign to deter the use of the word “bossy” as it pertains to young girls, I was already on board without knowing much about the new initiative.  I didn’t need to hear that Beyonce, Diane von Furstenberg, Condoleezza Rice or Jane Lynch were involved (although that lineup is kinda friggin awesome). I was just excited to learn more about it.

Having read the book, I know exactly where Sandberg is going with this. It all stems back to equality in the work place for women, and what better place to start then by being mindful of the things we say to young girls so that we’re not stifling their possible growth into future leaders? It isn’t just about the word “bossy”. It’s about all the things that are said to young girls that give them the impression that it’s not okay to be ambitious or that it's not okay to want to be leaders. It's about all the things that tell them it’s more important to be liked than to embrace a natural inclination to be a great leader.

Okay, so the title of the campaign “Ban Bossy” weighs a little heavy on the cheesy scale.  I’m sure the copywriter who thought of it was focused on the alliteration, so pleased with how it sounded rolling off the tongue that the cheese factor didn’t quite register with him or her but is that reason enough for all of the negative backlash? I don’t know. A contributor for Forbes blasts Sandberg, essentially telling her to get her priorities straight because “There Are Far Worse Things Than Being Called Bossy”. Another site brands the initiative “The stupidest campaign ever”. While I don’t quite know about all that, I will give a little on the call to ban the word.  Ban is a hell of a strong word and like I just said it makes the whole thing sound super cheesy (yes, after consideration, I increased the cheese level from a little to super). However, I don’t think we should get caught up in word play. Let’ not let that detract from the intention of the campaign. Fact is, there’s a problem with inequality for women in this country and like Sheryl, we should be attempting to work at the root of the problem to try and resolve it. Rather than bashing a woman who’s trying to do something positive, why not take a deeper look at what she’s trying to accomplish here and try to encourage little girls with leadership skills to strive to be leaders they were born to be. Visit BanBossy.com for more info.

"Let's make power moves ladies."  Thanks for reading.

Sincerely,

J. Daniel

 

Here’s a great piece on a few women we know that have been called bossy. Among them Anna Wintour, Michelle Obama, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor, Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Barbara Walters, and more.

16 Successful Women Who Were Once Called Bossy or Worse - Time