Opinion: What’s holding women back in the workplace?

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It’s been a while since women were officially considered “Persons” and won the right to vote.  An entire generation has also passed since the rise of the feminist movement and the birth of the idea of gender equality.  With all the progress and hard fought battles it may be easy to say that all is right and everything is equal, but the sad truth is that things aren’t fair, and everything is not alright.  Just look at statistics involving the C-suite of major companies.  Odds are that the number of women with the title of CEO, CFO, COO and CSO are only a small fraction as that of their male counterparts.  Some may say that this is because a lot of women must put their careers on hold when a child is introduced into the mix.  There is a nugget of truth to this, but that’s not all there is to it.  We take a look at a couple of reasons why there is such a lack of women in the boardroom and what can be done about it.

 

Surprisingly, or maybe unsurprisingly to some, the problem seems to begin even before women enter the workforce.  Statistics show the ratio of males and females are lopsided when it comes to registration in STEM subjects such as mathematics, engineering and science.  This unfairly places the areas of business that require critical thinking and calculations in the realm of males.  The solution to this obvious, engagement and empowerment at the school system level is sorely needed.

 

Clichés may seem like harmless stereotypes but they have the ability to hold women down.  A government study found that women in the workplace can be described as “bitchy”, “emotional” and “bossy”.  Fighting these clichés can mean the eradication of these words, which is very difficult and some may say that it infringes on their freedoms of speech.  However, the better option may be to circulate new clichés to counter the current ones and would include words like “intelligent”, “skilled” and “innovative”.

 

The recruitment process is often a huge hurdle when it comes to furthering the careers of women in the workplace.  Most of the rules and mentality surrounding employee recruitment in the modern workplace do not aim to exclude women, however, they do cater heavily towards men.  A lot of companies will hire women based on their past accomplishments, on meritocracy.  This is a great way of ensuring that the person with the right skills gets the job.  But, the same rule does not usually apply to male candidates who are usually judged, not on past performance, but on future potential.  This is not even close to being fair, and the crazy thing is that it has real ramifications to the companies business.  What if the man they hire doesn’t live up to his potential?  Now the entire company must suffer due to this bad hire.  In order to get more women into positions they deserve, recruitment practices must be examined, and if need be overhauled.

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The Small Business Blog was started in 2009. Aiming to help SME businesses. With that in mind, we are always looking for talented writers to write for us and add to the blog.

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