I am a passionate person and have a long term goal of becoming a manager and being a role model for women. So when a friend of mine questioned why a women was leading instead of a man, a few strings were tugged. Not only that, but these figures show that something is not right:
- “In the FTSE 100, for example, 12.5% of directors are women” (Forbes, 2011)
- “Global average annual earnings for women are 11k, compared to men’s earnings of 21k” (Deloitte press release, June 10, 2015)
- “Around the world, women are paid less than men, in most countries earning on average 60%-75% of men’s wages” (World Bank Gender Data Portal, 2015)
- “Women bear disproportionate caring responsibility for children, the elderly and the sick, spending as much as ten times more time a day on unpaid care work than men” (World Bank)
I understand that people have grown up in different cultures, where jobs and positions are associated with a certain gender.
Despite this, I would just like to say that I do not fully support this statement. With equality in mind, we should acknowledge that either men or women can take positions in management and assumptions that men are better leaders than women should definitely be reconsidered. I am by no means saying that women are always better leaders than men, I am however asking people to open up their minds and change their perception.
My inspiration for this issue arose after reading a biography by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. She is defying all assumptions around women and leadership. Her Book named “Lean In” brings up varying reasons why less women are leaders. She highlights that men are assumed to possess leadership qualities and have been brought up to higher standards of jobs. It has been etched into men’s minds that they are meant to lead. This is a contrast to women who are generally given lower standards and are not encouraged to strive into high management positions, instead they are seen more as the loving and caring kind who are fit for less controlling positions.So when women are faced with male leaders, there is some speculation in their minds on whether they should be there and whether they should sit at that table with the men where they belong. This speculation links to how they were brought up and can limit their confidence to defy what they were told and encouraged to do when they were younger.Another concept brought up by Sheryl Sandberg includes the characteristics and qualities of leaders.
When men lead, it is seen as initiative, while in contrast women are seen as bossy (Sandberg, 2013)
Women are also less liked in general if they show these qualities. So what should we do? Sit back and let them lead or prove to them that we are capable by making our way to the top?
I know what I would do… I mean you will still be paid less and will be seen less favourably than men, but it only takes a few women to take the challenge, to encourage other women to do it too! This can change the cultural norm and encourage change in society.
A few women have already done it and made their way to the top of their desired industry. Well-known figures include Hillary Clinton, Sheryl Sandberg, Michelle Obama and Opra Winfrey who have all made it into the list of the 100 top powerful women 2016 by Forbes Magazine.
If you agree with this or have any questions, feel free to comment. This is just my opinion, and is by no means right. Please do not take any offense!
Forbes. (2016). The World’s 100 Most Power Women. Available: http://www.forbes.com/power-women/#/tab:overall. Last accessed 22nd June 2016.
Sandberg, S. (2013). Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. United Kingdom: Ebury Publishing.
Smith, L. (2016). International Women’s Day 2016: Ten facts, figures and statistics about women’s rights. Available: http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/international-womens-day-2016-ten-facts-figures-statistics-about-womens-rights-1548083. Last accessed 22nd June 2016.
Toegel, G. (2011). Disappointing Statistics, Positive Outlook. Available: http://www.forbes.com/2011/02/18/women-business-management-forbes-woman-leadership-corporate-boards.html. Last accessed 22nd June 2016