Aim for the highest!
It is heartening to know that the number of women engaged in paid employment has risen considerably over the years all over the world, with ample records to prove that the companies that had taken the best efforts to promote women had been the most profitable. Globally, there has been a rise in the number of women executives in the corporate corridors as well as public servants in the political corridors. But how many of these women actually succeed in reaching the top of the corporate or political ladder? Unfortunately, very few if the figures are to be believed. Women constitute only up to 16% of the directors in the Fortune 500 companies, 4% of the CEOs of the Standard & Poor’s 500 companies and 4% again of the S&P’s 500 companies.
Let us scrutinise this matter of corporate leadership to explore the reasons for the barriers that prevent women from reaching the pinnacle.
The term ‘glass ceiling’ was coined to denote the barriers that impede the progress of women to the top of the corporate as well as political ladder. These barriers are placed invisibly at the level of society, government and organisation. So unless the agents that are responsible at each of these levels make an effort to search and identify these barriers, finding a way to remove them or getting around them becomes an impossible task.
# Gender bias still has a pivotal share in placing hinder antes across the path towards pinnacle, much as many organisations would hesitate to admit or recognise. Organisations do have a penchant for men leaders at the top when compared to women leaders, knowingly or unknowingly. There might not be an overt hostility towards women leaders, but it seems more like a lower than reasonable level of unambitious expectations from women in comparison with men. Generally, the society expects less from a public servant in the form of achievements if she is a woman.
# Women could end up being their own enemies by means of under rating their abilities and impeding their own progress towards the top of their career be it political or corporate. Women tend to have low self-confidence and constantly under value their own contributions and knowledge.
# Clear-cut differences in the priorities regarding work and family and particularly Childcare, that exist for women and men also throw obstacles in the way to the top for women. On the other side, a woman could be criticised by the society/ organisation either way for both, for having her priorities right and for not having too. Society has the tendency to sometimes ignore the involvement men should take in the matter of child rearing.
# The struggle of facing the challenges along the path to the pinnacle is what that makes women lean back or hesitant. In no way by any means, they are less ambitious than men. This hesitancy makes them less assertive on the matter of pushing their career forwards till the top.
As the picture is getting candid, it also is obvious that the ‘invisible barriers’ are all interlinked. What is called for is a change in the mindset and attitude at the levels of society, organisation and family, which will give women the assurance they need to build up their confidence to further their progress up the path of their career till they reach the pinnacle. We need to call a halt to the practised ways of prejudice towards women who is trying to find a work- life balance while zealously pursuing the position at the top. The family has to understand that the partner too should put in his efforts towards rearing children and sharing responsibilities, thus remaining true to the word “partner”. Organisations should offer more understanding towards women’s priorities providing them with a family friendly work atmosphere. After all, most of the enrolments in business colleges are of women and more than half of the degrees get awarded to women. The society/ organisation /family reap the benefits of success of women particularly because, women are averse to risks and make wise investments/decisions that are not impulsive. So it is their duty to encourage the women and by clearing the unseen barriers, smoothen the path towards the pinnacle for women.
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