This term encompasses many problems for women in leadership. Though there are policies in place that don't allow for these discriminations, but it still happens that people do not view women as able or qualified enough for promotion or to be elected to office based merely on their sex. Laura Casselman, CEO of JVZoo explains that she confronts gender bias almost daily as she is often mistaken as the assistant or wife to the CEO and has to explain her position. .
Balancing Other Life Aspects
Most people would agree that motherhood is hard work for anyone, but many women balance family demands and a leadership role. Though men also have the challenge of fatherhood there is an extra societal pressure placed on women to raise kids and create a happy home. Today, among households with children under 18, 40% report women as the primary or sole earners, showing that women face the challenge of advancing their career and caring for a family in many instances.
Along the same lines of motherhood and working, there is a large challenge for many women to re-enter the work force once they have had children. This can be due to the dependence a child has of them, having to combat ageism, rebuilding confidence, creating a network and sharpening old skills or developing new ones.
Easy to understand, but hard to practice, confidence is necessary to have in order to achieve leadership success. Francine Parham, a career expert on the advancement of women in the work place, recognizes the a lack of confidence in many of her female clients and says that women leaders "need to get comfortable knowing that people will always try to take you off of "your game" or dislike you for no apparent reason. But if you go in knowing this, if you are clear on your purpose and on what you are trying to achieve, then you will be successful in getting what you want."
In order for your presence to be known as a leader, women need to speak up. Voicing your opinion and sharing your expertise helps shape policy and and guide your team. For many there is a fear of otracization or rejection, but in order to earn respect women's voices must be heard. Contributing to important conversations takes courage and ties in nicely with the need to develope confidence.
Gender Pay Gap
Though it is disputed, most studies do confirm the existence of a wage gap between men and women. According to the Institute for Women's Policy Research, women earn 80.5 cents for every dollar that a man earns. Women of color face even more challenges and with regards to current rates of change aren't predicted to reach pay equality until 2119. The wage gap creates an uneven playing field and does not allow women to progress up to leadership positions as easily.
Asking for Money
A study conducted by LeanIn.org found that women who negotiate for higher pay they are liked less and often viewed as bossy or aggressive. This can be linked to the idea that women are expected to be nurturing and giving and focused not on themselves, but the team. When a women advocates for herself she can be perceived as self-absorbed. The negative connotation of "bossy" that advocating women are often labeled can be detrimental to their status as a leader and may make her team view her unfavorable and not allow her to lead as effectively.
Becoming a Member of the C-Suite
Becoming a top senior executive is one of the most impressive leadership roles and women only hold 30% of these roles. Leanin.org predicts that we are 100 years away from gender equality in the C-Suite. The lack of women in leadership roles is not due to attrition, as women and men are leaving companies are about the same rate. The tone for a company or organization is set at the top and since women are under represented in this area their perspectives and knowledge is lacking in many organizations.
Few Examples to Follow
Though there are some great of examples of strong women leaders in politics and in business that are celebrated in the media, but there often aren't women leaders in organizations that many females are apart of. When women are working their way up through a company that has few women above them it can be challenging for woman to navigate these uncertain waters without an example to follow or to seek advice from. Having a support system that can relate to your issues is extremely helpful, yet also rare for many women.
Standing in Their Success
Niya Allen- Vatel, a leadership coach, has learned that "Some women leaders shy away from speaking on their accomplishments for fear of being boastful or conceited." However, taking ownership of your accomplishments can be done tactfully and is necessary to receive the deserved recognition that helps women move up into leadership roles.
While researching for this project I found myself gravitating toward issues that women in business face. This is surely due to my goals of working for a large corporation upon the completion of my Management Information Systems and Finance degrees. While I expected myself to be discouraged by the findings of research I mostly found clarity. It has been known to me that women face many unspecified challenges in business, but now that I put a name to many of them and identified their causes they seem more manageable . Something that stood out to me was the challenge of women having role models and gathering support . Since both my sister and sister-in-law work for "Big Four" accounting firms I already have great role models that can and have helped me navigate that type of environment. Though there are many issues that women must confront I am hopeful of the direction women in leadership are headed.