Tags: female | leadership | stagnation

Female Leadership: What Is Causing The Stagnation?

Female Leadership: What Is Causing The Stagnation?

By Sunday, 15 March 2020 06:25 AM Current | Bio | Archive

With a turbo-speed rollercoaster of activity in the world, ranging from the political climate to global warming to the Coronavirus, the need for strong competent leaders is greater than ever.

However, half of the U.S. workforce is being deprived of leadership opportunities. According to the US Department of Labor, women make-up almost half of the country’s workforce, yet the percentage of women in senior leadership roles and the C-suite continues to stagnate. Further underlining the struggle, women hold only 4% of leadership positions in Fortune 500 companies, based on research by the Rockefeller Foundation.

The gender imbalance is also frustrating and perplexing for companies looking to make gender diversity a priority and have built a more robust pipeline of upwardly mobile women, only to watch these female executives reach an invisible barrier.

So, what is causing this stagnation? One question we must consider is – What does it mean to be a leader? It involves so much more than simply being placed in a leadership role, it requires a fundamental identity shift.

Women must present themselves as self-confident, assertive, and competitive to be viewed as qualified for leadership roles. As a society, we have preconceived notions of how women are supposed to act and traits they are expected to exhibit. However, when these “norms” are broken, we tend to punish our women. Subsequently, career women face a unique double bind, in that they must choose between being liked but not respected or being respected but not liked. In a 2008 study published in Psychological Science, men received a boost in their perceived status after expressing anger. In contrast, “women who expressed anger were consistently accorded lower status and lower wages and were seen as less competent.”

Although it feels like a virtual catch-22, there is hope. Women are making positive strides across various industries and moving into positions of power. Furthermore, we are in the midst of a cultural shift which is being driven by both women and society. Women have worked extremely hard for a long period of time to achieve these changes and we are finally seeing the fruits of their labor. Their fight, their drive, their dedication, their constant work ethic, and persistence has not only brought about a positive difference for gender equality in the boardroom, but also in corporate America as a whole.

At the same time, we must also acknowledge society’s role in helping the shift towards a more gender neutral and fair environment. It is through society’s acceptance and support of legislation such as California’s SB 826 and movements like #TimesUp, which has raised awareness of the inequalities and helped level the playing field for women.

The leaders of tomorrow will certainly look different than those of today. Corporate boards, C-suite executives and managers will no longer consist of predominantly all-white males, but rather a diverse tapestry of both men and women of various races and backgrounds. We will one day enjoy a future where boardrooms have achieved not only gender parity, ethnic diversity, as well.

In the words of Helen Reddy “I am woman, hear me roar…in numbers too big to ignore. If I have to, I can do anything. I am strong…I am invincible…I am woman.”

Sheila Ronning, founder and CEO of Women In The Boardroom – an organization founded with the goal of bridging the gender gap in the boardroom – is a recognized expert on boardroom diversity and leadership. Follow her on Twitter (Twitter @RonningSheila).

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With a turbo-speed rollercoaster of activity in the world, ranging from the political climate to global warming to the Coronavirus, the need for strong competent leaders is greater than ever.
female, leadership, stagnation
Sunday, 15 March 2020 06:25 AM
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