While more women are graduating from university than men, very few of us are calling the shots. Of 190 heads of state, 19 are women. Globally women make up around 18% of parliaments and only 15% of corporate leadership. And while women represent around 73% of the non-profit sector, they only hold 20% of the leadership roles.
Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, speaks passionately on TED about some of the factors she believes are holding women back and a few of them sounded rather familiar to us…
- Women systematically underestimate their own abilities. Men on the other hand, often have little trouble proclaiming their ‘awesomeness’. Men also tend to attribute success to themselves while women attribute it to other external factors. Ladies, if you too find this rings true, have a look at these 5 questions you may want to ask yourself!
- Research shows that unfortunately for women, calling the shots doesn’t always reap the same rewards it does for men. Success and likeability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women. Perhaps this would be a different story if we moved toward a different kind of leadership that plays to our strengths.
- And finally, when that biological clock starts ticking women’s careers tend to suffer. They begin worrying about the family responsibilities they’ll need to juggle and start ‘leaning back’ in their career. They stop looking for new opportunities, their career becomes less challenging, and they are less driven to strive for greatness.
The decision to have children may also have an effect on the confidence others have in you as a leader. Jessica Jackley, founder of Kiva, recently co-founded a new venture which she will lead as its CEO. One potential investor thought twice before investing when he heard she was pregnant. He decided to invest in the end, but candidly shares his doubts here.
It’s tough. With these and other obstacles still keeping the majority of women from reaching the top of their professions, we sometimes wonder whether we’re missing out on quality female role models. There are of course brilliant every day heroines around the world. We all know them. They are our friends, our mothers, our grandmothers, women in our communities. Women who live their lives with integrity, have devoted themselves to wonderful causes, or lead inspiring and fulfilling professional careers. But somehow these are rarely the women being portrayed in Hollywood or given attention in mainstream media. When we realise that less than 10% of films are written or directed by a female, the lack of quality, multi-dimensional female characters women have to emulate is no longer surprising.
We want to be part of breaking the cycle.
The remarkable women we all know deserve a bit of the spotlight, and we want to shine it on them.
Tell us about your heroine or a woman who inspires you by commenting below. Or even better – get your creative juices flowing and write a short piece to share your heroine’s story with the world! Send it to firstname.lastname@example.org