Women Leaders in the Workplace: Outstanding Progress and Continuous Challenges
Women leaders have come a long way in the world of work. Females are increasingly being promoted to management positions, starting their own businesses, and entering male-dominated industries. Although females have made substantial progress, they still face some disadvantages and have some ongoing challenges.
Female Workers on the Rise
It’s getting very close to a milestone event where there are more women employed in America than men. During the economic slowdown, more males lost jobs than females. Additionally, women workers who opted out of corporations back in the 1990s to raise their children have now returned.
Successful CEOs and Business Owners
Although their numbers aren’t huge, there are quite a few top-tier women leaders in the workplace. Some have opened their own companies, and others are CEOs of major corporations. These female business leaders are doing very well, too. For example, when economic storms have hit, these women have proven how tough they are. Not only have they shown their competitiveness, decisiveness, and strength; their leadership has resulted in major company stock increases.
It has been illegal to treat female workers differently than male workers since the 1960s; however, there are still some unconscious biases at play in the workplace. For instance, there is often bias is in how men give feedback to men versus how they offer critique to women. When male colleagues talk to each other, they tend to be quite upfront, candid, even bordering on being rude. Because they worry that female colleagues will take offense, they clean up their language and their attitudes, sometimes to the point of sugarcoating.
Some women leaders in the workplace sabotage themselves without even realizing it. Workplace norms have been traditionally geared toward male norms. Women have often been raised to be nice, polite, and even submissive. When these feminine behaviors are brought into male-dominated arenas filled with politics, it can be problematic. Being courteous in response to cutthroat business practices can be ineffective and downright sabotaging.
Lack of Support
Another challenging area where women leaders in the workplace suffer is from lack of support from other female executives. Having a supportive network of same-gender leaders is crucial, because female managers can act as role models, share their experiences, and serve as sounding boards. Although there are more females in high positions in the workplace, it’s not always easy to find other women leaders to connect with.
Achieving a balance between life and work is always a challenge for any leader, but especially for women who are trying to raise families simultaneously. Being a mother while also running a department or business can be the ultimate juggling act. Both entities need an immense amount of attention and commitment, and sometimes timing and obligations can overlap, which causes stress for all concerned. Some women leaders in the workplace learn to handle it by cutting themselves a bit of slack and not taking everything so seriously. To do the best one can with dual responsibilities goes a long way in creating balance.
Lack of Startup Funding
Finding investors to get a business up and running can be challenging for any entrepreneur, but those started by women have even harder times than those opened by men. Because venture capitalists usually invest their funds in members of their own tribe and these individuals tend to be male, women can be left out in the cold when it comes to generating startup money.
A woman’s nurturing skills and emotional bent can be both a boon and a hindrance to her job performance as an executive. Of course, not every female is a natural nurturer, but the gender tends to have more innate and acquired skills in this arena. Because women are raised to recognize and embrace their emotional side, they are more in touch with it and so act from it. Men, on the other hand, are often taught to be tough. On the positive side, being empathetic and encouraging can work wonders for staff morale, but being too soft can lead to ineffectiveness.
The good news is that women leaders in the workplace have risen up to top-level positions and are commanding more successful companies. They are also being taken more seriously, and their numbers are growing. Although they still face a number of challenges, the more female business owners and executives that band together and learn from each other, the stronger they’ll become. For more tips and resources on excellence in the workplace, turn to the resources at Mighty Recruiter.