One of the main reasons I chose to create the BE event, was to shine a light on these areas where we as women are challenged, yet we as a collective have the ability to change.
This year’s event focus is on REIMAGINING a new wave of leadership.
- What would it look like?
- What would need to change?
- Who needs to be on board to make it happen?
After reading dozens of books, articles on the matter, listening to podcasts and researching statistics. I’ve chalked it up to 3 key areas where we as female leaders have the ability to make decisions to change for the better.
1.Having Confidence in Our Voices
Women often struggle with both the internal and external barriers in expressing our thoughts, ideas and opinions. We fear being ridiculed or rejected, seen as too bold or too emotional. We allow ourselves to be interrupted, we can be known to apologize excessively, and fail to put forth a strong point of view in fear of being too commanding.
The problem as I see it : Women have a lot of GOOD to say. We’ve worked hard to be in the positions we currently own. Yet, If we can’t develop both our confidence and our voices, those awesome ideas and opinions that have the ability to shape culture, and change communities sink to the bottom and go unheard.
The solution as I see it : Join some women’s groups, network with other like minded leaders. Practice sharing ideas and opinions in small, safe groups. Get constructive feedback on your tone, structure, pace. Take a speaking class to level up your skills in communication.
2. Imposter Syndrome
Over 75 percent of women have described experiencing ‘IS’ in their current career. According to the New York Times, women often underestimate their abilities. We judge ourselves harsher than that of our male counterparts. We feel like a fraud in our roles, feeling under qualified and skeptical of our worth. Not seeing what’s right in front of us, which is our talents, gifts and special abilities. Thinking luck or right timing is what drove us to where we are currently.
The problem as I see it : This mindset is hindering our growth. It’s causing us to stagnate and preventing us from meeting our full potential.
The solution as I see it : We need to focus on what we know to be true. What are those divine strengths and skills we know we are good at. Again, find a group of like minded, strong female leaders. Talk about your fears out loud, realizing that others feel the same way. Remember what you say to yourself, makes a difference what you think and how you feel. Own those accomplishments. Rather than saying ‘I am awesome’, say ‘Terri-Ann is awesome’ (preferably while alone). When someone says congrats, smile and say thank you vs deflecting.
3. Fighting gender stereotypes
According to a report from WeForum, globally across 106 Countries, it’ll take 108 years to close the gender gap. That’s not in my life time or yours! In one article from IMD, it stated that in gender typed tasks men are often credited for joint successes and women are more likely to be blamed for joint failures. Research also shows that women are held to stricter standards when being considered for a promotion. Women who negotiate their salary are 30% more likely than men to be labelled intimidating, bossy or aggressive. But on the other end, if we women conform to gender stereotypes (being comforting, compassionate and sensitive) stats show we are then seen as less competent.
The problem as I see it : Gender biases hurt us all. Some are conscious, some are unconscious, having been created while we were young and impressionable. Women are still very much underrepresented in a vast amount of leadership roles globally, and I blame this challenge as one of the key reasons. The stats show that more women in Leadership roles will have a dramatic and very positive effect on our economy. So, it begs to state that this ‘issue’ needs to be addressed sooner vs later.
The solution as I see it : We need to at minimum acknowledge that gender stereotypes do exist. While we’ve tweaked the needle a tad, there’s still lots of work to be done. We need to challenge our thoughts (both men and women), and uncover our own biases. We need to learn the positives of both male and female leaders and assist in developing our future leaders for the new economy. We need to stand up and speak up. When inappropriate behavior exists in our presence, we need to speak to it, challenging those beliefs and assumptions. Again, we cannot change what is not acknowledged.
So that’s a wrap.