“You can grow up to be anything you want to be, do anything you want to do, and I know you’re do great things because you’re you.” – My mom.
I’m very fortunate. I never knew that it was a disadvantage to be female growing up. I was never taught that certain toys were for girls, certain toys were for boys, to let the boys win, or that I had to be a housewife and raise a brood of children. I come from a long lineage of strong working women. They didn’t go to college, they did not receive managerial statuses, but they worked. Hard. They worked with people that were different than them, different races, religions, and cultures. My mother was a high level administrator for Proctor and Gamble, and she was exposed to unnumbered cultures during her nearly four decades at the corporation. I loved meeting the people she worked with like Ranjit, the Indian chemist and Magda, the Egyptian microbiologist who became my mentor. There were very intelligent and powerful women of all cultures creating some of P&G’s most revolutionary and profitable products, so why was I to think that I, as a female, couldn’t do that?
I watched an amazing documentary called “Feminists: What were they thinking” on Netflix a few weeks ago, and it rattled me in a great way. I was listening to all of these powerful feminist activists talk about their mothers, almost every single one was raised to think that women are no different than men in our abilities, we are not inferior, we are not subservient to men. After I watched the documentary, I called my mother to tell her that she raised the way that the women I admired were raised. She chuckled and said, “Well honey, it’s all so true.”
“We’ve begun to raise daughters more like sons… but few have the courage to raise our sons more like our daughters.” – Gloria Steinem (Northouse, pg 412, 2019).
Our lesson talks about glass ceilings, which are beliefs that women do not have the training, skill, experience, or personal capacity for executive positions (PSU, 2018), which is ridiculous. We hold 57% of bachelor’s degrees, 60% of master’s degrees, and over 50% of doctoral degrees (Northouse, 2019), so to say that we don’t have the training is a moot point. While there are some women that want to take the “mommy-track” of a delayed or stunted career to care for their family, there are also some men out there that do the same but they don’t get a demeaning title like “daddy-track” following them around. If a woman wants to have a family and take time off to rear their young, that’s great, but there are a lot of professional women who want a family but don’t want to jeopardize the career they have worked so hard for.
I never thought that the difficulties that women faced in the past would still be prevalent today. Sometimes, men just don’t think that women are as good at their jobs as men. In an article from Sydney, Australia, a 33-year old flight instructor gets a lot of doubts from the men that fly with her, “Sometimes we get older guys coming through, who might say ‘I’m not flying with a girl!’ but then they go flying and say ‘Oh actually, she was really safe and a really good pilot’” (The sky not quite the limit for women in workforce, 2017). This is a blatant example of gender prejudice, where many people think that an effective leader has to be a man (PSU, 2018).
So what can be done about it? Well, we can try to redefine what makes good women leaders, but that’s a very slow process. In a paper by Lynn D. Leiber, she suggested a few tactics in hiring for a diverse workforce that could not only increase the number of women hired in upper management and executive positions, but also creating a culturally diverse workforce. She suggested that employers search outside of their normal searches for new employees, masking personal information on resumes so the recruiter doesn’t know if the applicant is female, male, African-American, or any other culture that can be assessed by their name, posting jobs on websites that women and people of color search, recruit at campuses with more minorities and speak to potential female recruits, and utilize recruiting firms that have a strong diversity protocol (Leiber, 2012).
Demetrakas, J. (Director). (2014). Feminists: What were they thinking [Motion picture on
Netflix]. United States: Crazy Wisdom Films.
Lieber, L. D. (2012), Considerations for attracting and retaining a qualified, diverse workforce. Empl. Rel. Today, 38: 85-92. doi:10.1002/ert.20369
Northouse, P.G. (2019). Leadership: Theory and practice (Eighth Edition). Los Angeles, CA: Sage.
Pennsylvania State University World Campus. (2018). PSYCH 485 Lesson 13: Leadership and
Diversity. Retrieved from https://psu.instructure.com/courses/1942231/modules
The sky not quite the limit for women in workforce. (2017, March 6). Sydney Morning Herald
[Sydney, Australia], p. 8. Retrieved from http://link.galegroup.com.ezaccess.libraries.