McKinsey and LeanIn just published a report about Women in the Work Place and states: “Female leadership is an imperative for organizations that want to perform at the highest levels. Yet based on the slow rate of progress over the last three years, it will take twenty-five years to reach gender parity at the senior-VP level and more than one hundred years in the C-suite.”
You probably already know that women in technology, science, engineering, and mathematics (collectively referred to as STEM) are underrepresented. Much thought and research has attempted to uncover why this is and what organizations should be doing about it. Many large companies like Google, Facebook, and now Accenture have voluntarily published gender and diversification reports. Their numbers are terrible. And now the public is starting to ask what tech and science companies are going to do about it.
In The Women’s Code we are committed to changing the way women work and lead. We want to do our part to help companies raise their gender diversity numbers, and celebrate the women who make it past middle management into leadership roles.
Because this is such a hot topic and I want to encourage women to consider careers in STEM, please forward this article to your friends or colleagues who could benefit from it. Thank you.
In this article, I will take you through a few of my key points and I’ll discuss what we can do to fix the problem.
It’s the right thing to do
Women deserve the same opportunities, advancement possibilities, and pay SIMPLY because it is the right thing to do. As I have pointed out before, acting like a girl is good for business.
Hostility occurs when we think something has been taken away from us. Instead, The Women’s Code focuses on what women can add to STEM teams that is not possible without us. In my Insights Paper I documented studies that very clearly show team intelligence is highest when the team is gender-balanced. Yet we see the technology sector fraught with so much tension that it is one of the worst working environments for women. In fact, 40% of women who work in tech leave the sector entirely!
Gender misunderstandings can happen because some men think women want to be like men. We don’t. But we do want equal opportunities. And this is my segue to the second reason…
We need to shift the focus from Her to Her Abilities
Understanding the differences between men and women and knowing how to apply them can work to your advantage. One of my favorite things is to talk about what women leadership actually is. Take a look around. To cite an example of male leadership in business, politics, music, or sports we have plenty to choose from. If we are looking for women leaders in business, politics, music, or sports we find a few scattered here and there, but nothing compared to the abundance of men.
Even when we can identify strong women leaders like Gloria Steinem, Hillary Clinton, or Madonna, we often debate whether or not they are good role models. In the end, instead of exalting successful women, we pick them apart until we can’t remember what was so great about them in the first place.
This past weekend I attended a private dinner party where I was in the company of Donald Trump and lots of Republican voters. As the founder of The Women’s Code it shouldn’t be a surprise the campaign issues that matter most to me relate to equality and diversity. At the party I mentioned Hillary Clinton would be welcome on my team anytime. Conversation took a lively turn, as you can imagine. The questions thrown at me included, “What qualifies Hillary?” and “What good has she done?”
I rebutted that Donald Trump is the least qualified candidate and he has truly done nothing positive of importance in the political arena or for women. My statements were quickly dismissed, as if his track record doesn’t even matter.
IT DRIVES ME MAD when a man’s leadership ability—no matter how outrageous or ineffective—needs no explanation. He is who he is. Yet when it comes to women leaders, every discussion has to prove her worth. We must know all the facts of Hillary’s entire personal and professional history. She isn’t believed to be honest and certainly not forgiven for any mistakes. Even if she has been cleared of wrongdoing, we have to make the case for her again and again. And if that weren’t enough, she has to be likable and *gasp!* what is she wearing?
The more women at the top, the easier it is for other women to climb
If we continue to tear apart the few role models we have, we secure the bottom floor for ourselves and other women. Unreasonable expectations, opinions about their physical attributes, and the drama we create around women leaders cast dark shadows on their accomplishments.
I have to stifle a laugh every time I hear that Hillary Clinton changed her position on something from 20 years ago. Imagine what a terrible thing it would be if we prohibited ourselves from evolving, learning, and adjusting our positions. Actually, we should reassess our stances whenever new information becomes available. To do otherwise is irresponsible.
May I cite global warming as an example? A few years back most people didn’t believe it was real. Now that we have seen the 10 hottest years in the past 20, many of us changed our minds.
Aren’t you glad your opinions have changed from when you were a teenager or in your early 20s?
The more women at the top, the better it will be for all of us
Yes, I’m including men in “all of us.” And here we arrive at my fourth reason for providing better support to working women. From the top down and the bottom up we want to embrace what each side brings to the table. Together we are better, stronger, and smarter. Isn’t it time our businesses, government, and all organizations catch on to this trend? When we ignore women, we miss out on 51% of the talent, 51% of innovative ideas, and 51% of the possibilities.
There is much to be done to identify women leadership. We are presently caught up in the superficial nonsense of outdated views and old-fashioned values. Sure, change is difficult, but it comes with so many opportunities.
We must start with ourselves. As women, we need to support other women. Even if (especially when) we disagree with her. My favorite example that can light up a discussion in five seconds is Sarah Palin. She’s a woman with perhaps interesting views, but she manages to take charge and lead nevertheless. While I don’t agree with much of anything she says, I salute Sarah for her courage. She keeps getting up no matter how many times she’s been run over, and that is a powerful demonstration of her personal will and women leadership.
Finally, you should know the clock is ticking. Millennials consider equality and women’s issues as core values. In 10 years, Millennials will make up 75% of the American workforce, so we’d better hop on the bandwagon early. Their views will be the new world order and the next 10 years are going to flash by just as quickly as the previous decade.
Let’s get more women into places that are traditionally filled by men because we need balanced views on all subjects. Are your beliefs about women holding your progress back, too?
At her lowest point, Beate Chelette was $135,000 in debt, a single mother, and forced to leave her home. Only 18 months later, she sold her image licensing business to Bill Gates in a multimillion dollar deal. Chelette is a nationally known ‘gender decoder’ who has appeared in over 60 radio shows, respected speaker, career coach, consummate creative entrepreneur, and author of Happy Woman Happy World. Beate is also the founder of The Women’s Code, a unique guide to women leadership and personal and career success that offers a new code of conduct for today’s business, private, and digital worlds. Determined to build a community of women supporting each other, she took her life-changing formula documented it all in a book Brian Tracy calls “an amazing handbook for every woman who wants health, happiness, love and success!”
Through her corporate initiative “Why Acting Like a Girl Is Good For Business” she helps companies with gender diversification training, and to develop and retain women.
If you’d like to book Beate as a speaker on New Leadership Balance or Creative Entrepreneurship for your next event please connect with me.