In the world today, there still exists a gap between women and men in the work-force. However, over the years, women have taken positions that have predominantly been held by men. Part of this paradigm shift is pressure from media, community, and labor regulatory agencies calling for gender equity in the workplace. Women have also stepped up to acquire skills that ruled them out in certain positions in the past.
Has enough been done to elevate women in leadership positions? Certainly not. Even though women in the workplace face the same challenges as men, some are very specific to women. Here are some highlighted below.
- Widening wage gap between men and women
- Sexual harassment
- Increased involvement in non-professional jobs such as childcare
- Unconscious societal biases
Are women ready to step up?
A recent survey by Kathryn Sollmann, an author and career coach, revealed that women of ages 35-55 are not keen to move to higher positions. Additionally, women of ages 35-44 responded that they had reached the peak of their careers. Even though this data somehow portrays women as relaxed in taking senior positions, Survey data revealed that 75 percent of the women are keen to advance their careers.
How to help women move up the ladder
Now that we are aware of challenges facing women in the workplace, let’s dive into exploring steps to consider to encourage more women to take up leadership positions.
- Work-life support
Women have to juggle between career and family support. And to be honest, this hampers the opportunity to hold leadership positions that are time demanding. Employers should create a flexible environment that supports family-friendly models, such as working from home.
- Leadership training
Employers should initiate women-focused training that provides mentorship to women aspiring for leadership. Such programs equip women with unique skills to excel in leadership. Also, they enable women to become self-aware of their innate biases and how to combat work-plus-life struggles.
- Encourage more women mentors
Employers should create opportunities to encourage women to coach fellow women. As seen above, some challenges are peculiar to women. Only a fellow woman would understand. Employers should promote the formation of women network groups to enable women to build relationships, share challenges, and solutions in the workplace.
Understanding barriers preventing women from advancing to top leadership is crucial in increasing the number of women leaders. Top companies have discovered this secret. Their reward is a bottom-line success. Other employers should follow suit and create a gender-neutral environment to enjoy similar fruits.