Eighteen of Fortune 500 CEO’s are women. A small number, yes, but it’s a record – up from twelve last year. So what’s holding women back in today’s workplace? In my opinion – nothing. It’s quite apparent that women today have higher ambitions and aspirations than ever, and are entering the workforce better educated and more prepared. At the University of Victoria, 2011/2012 overall student enrolment was 58% female, and the Gustavson School of Business MBA class had a 1:1 female to male ratio.
The Wall Street Journal recently wrote an article on women in the economy, in which they enlisted an “Executive Task Force” of female leaders who shared their tips on how to confront the obstacles that some feel keep women from reaching the top. A few personal strategies from these women included the following:
- Raise your hand – volunteer for tough assignments and own your accomplishments.
- Do Self-Assessments – ask yourself, “am I a game changer or a value-creator?”
- Cultivate Relationships – do more than just “network”. Bond with key peers, male and female, and ask for and accept help.
- Use adaptive communication – know your audience, use language as a tool for influence, and learn to interrupt effectively in order to get your opinions heard.
For me, these are all things I can work on and I can definitely see the value. But what I don’t see, are the obstacles. Yes, there are barriers to women reaching that corner office, but a lot has changed, and they are now the same barriers for women as they are for men. I believe that it’s not the gender, but the person who sets the limits for success.
I belong to an organization that has more female employees than male, and that I know has equal opportunity. I have some high-ranking female role models, here in Victoria, who with no lack of effort, have been extremely successful in what is no longer a “man’s world”.
Geena Davis, Academy Award winning actress and producer said, “The more hours of television a girl watches, the fewer options she thinks she has in life.”
So ladies, anticipate opportunities as opposed to challenges and always see yourself as an equal player. You get what you expect!
Are you with me? Please share your thoughts!