“Women make better CEOs.” These fine words come from none other than Kevin O’Leary, better known as Mr. Wonderful on ABC’s The Shark Tank. O’Leary holds an impressive business portfolio, and 55 percent of the CEOs in it are women. Why, then, are women so exceedingly underrepresented in high-level, leadership positions still to this day? One ongoing study examined just that.
(Photo Credit: ABC)
Building upon its study published in Harvard Business Review in 2012, Zenger Folkman, a provider of leadership research, assessment, development, and implementation programs, had some expected and not-so-expected findings its survey of roughly 16,000 leaders. The participants were from various industries, and were roughly two-thirds male, and one-third female. Here’s what they found about how women leaders stack up to their male counterparts:
1. Overall Leadership Effectiveness: Men = 51.8 percent, Women = 54.5 percent
2. Age Factor: Both genders are perceived to have similar leadership effectiveness in the beginning of their careers (up until 25 years old), then men seem to dominate from 26 to 40 years old. From age 40 to 60, it’s women who lead the pack and are perceived to be more effective leaders than men — 9 percentile points more, to be exact. After 60 years of age, the gap narrows and both genders are perceived to be just as effective.
3. Practicing Self Development: Until around the age of 40, both genders request the same amount of feedback based on their performance and use that feedback to make changes to further their careers. After age 40, women still maintain their requests for feedback consistently throughout their careers and continue to make improvements. The level for men over 40 years old continues to decline over the lifetime of their careers, because, as the study indicates, “Men assume that they are doing fine and don’t really need much feedback.”
To view the other findings of the study, see this post.
Such gender disparities exist for several reasons, a few being:
1. Working women start become mothers around the age 30, so many drop out of the workforce to care for their children full-time, voluntarily or out of necessity (e.g. high cost of childcare).
2. Women are more adverse to negotiate or ask for raises and promotions due to certain stereotypes against women in the workplace.
3. Pure exhaustion from pulling double-duty in their careers and in the home.
Women are expected to work twice as hard as men in order to be considered half as good — this needs to change. But how?
1. Small changes over time. Women are encouraged to remain patient, tenacious, and confident throughout this journey, just as their mothers, grandmothers, and great-grandmothers were all these years, because “the pyramids weren’t built in a day.”
2. Sit at the table. “Don’t expect that you’ll get to the corner office by sitting on the sidelines,” said Facebook’s COO and author of Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg, in her TED Talk. Women are encouraged to take charge of their careers by owning their success and consciously participating in the dialogue happening “at the table.” If women want stereotypes in the workplace to change for the better, then they need to roll up their sleeves and be the change.
3. Negotiate like Charlize. Sony’s unfortunate email leak led to a fortunate victory after Charlize Theron was awarded a $10 million raise after leaked emails revealed that she was being paid that much less than her male co-star, Chris Hemsworth. #FairPayMatters, ladies.
Eradicating gender stereotypes in the workplace won’t happen overnight, but that doesn’t mean hope should be lost. It’s a collective effort that requires the cooperation of both men and women, working together in and out of the office to support each other’s careers and goals concurrently. Until that day comes, ladies, listen to the wise words of Ayn Rand, “The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.”
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