women's leadershipWomen are equally qualified for leadership positions as their male counterparts, however, less of us continue to fill political and corporate leadership positions. Most Americans find women indistinguishable from men on key leadership traits such as the capacity for innovation and intelligence. Some believe that women make stronger leaders than men because we are more compassionate and organized. However, based on the slow rate of progress over the last 3 years it will take 25 years to reach gender parity at the senior-VP and more than 100 years in the C-suite. If we continue with our current rate of transformation in government, the United States will not receive equal representation until 2117.

Double Standards?

According to a Pew Research Center survey, work-life balance is not the sole reason for the gap in the balance between men and women. Previous research has conveyed that career interruptions make it more difficult for women to advance and compete for executive positions, however, there is not enough concrete evidence to state that this is a barrier to women’s success. Rather, at the top of the list of reasons is a double standard for women seeking to climb the highest levels of business or politics, in which we must do more than our male counterparts to prove ourselves. Similarly, many assert that the electorate and corporate America are not ready to put women at the top echelons of business of politics. As a result, the public remains divided about whether despite the major advances women have made in the workplace, the imbalance in corporate America will change within the foreseeable future. Approximatively 53 percent of those surveyed believe that men will continue to hold more top executive positions in the future; 44 percent state that it is only a matter of time that as many women are in top executive positions as men. According to this research, Americans are less doubtful when it comes to politics because 73 percent of respondents expect to see a female president within their lifetime. 

Organizational and Cultural Disadvantages

Another study, Women in the Workplace, also shows that women are still underrepresented in corporate America and that the barriers to advancement still persist within company cultures and procedures.  Entry and midlevel women share similar aspirations for promotions to the next level, but senior level women are less interested in advancement than senior level men. At each stage women are less eager than men to become a top executive, with the gap being the widest among men and women in senior management. The path to leadership is disproportionately stressful for women who are mothers, whom are 15 percent more interested in becoming a top executive than women without children. In addition, Black, Hispanic, and Asian women are 43 percent more interested in being a top executive than white women.

Women lack the same professional networks that men do, thereby making mentoring and sponsorship important tools for women to advance. This also emphasizes the necessity for men for to be included within the path to gender parity because they possess the key to the networking that women must do in order to progress to their desired professional level. 

Government Representation 

The number of women running for office locally and nationally has steadily increased, however, we are still lagging behind men. Women currently compose only 19 percent of Congress. For a developed country, we linger behind many others. The U.S. has been ranked 98th in the world for its percentage of women in national legislature. There are movements to inspire women to run for office, however, it has not been enough. Having women in office upholds our democratic values of maintaining fairness and an equally representative government. Studies have also shown that the presence of more women in legislatures is significantly reflected within the policy that is passed.

Disrupting Gender and Cultural Biases 

A huge part of altering these barriers are shifting our individual attitudes. We cannot modify how organizations operate and interrupt this uneven playing field until we question how we think ourselves. Social change will derive from challenging our inherent cultural biases, including those within our professional behavior.

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