Over 55% of college graduates in the US today are women, yet men still hold the vast majority of top leadership positions in business. Like me, do you wonder why that is? What’s been holding you women back and how can you step forward to assume your rightful leadership role in business, politics and in our communities?
We often hear brags about “women’s intuition”–a lady’s ability to spot trends and gain insight into what others are thinking far better than we men can. Given this talent, why aren’t more women than men the top leaders in business and government? How about all the other skills where women usually outshine men, including sensibility, emotional bonding, relationship building and verbal communication? It seems a slam dunk that highly capable and ambitious women would employ these talents to rocket right to the top?
Perhaps the answer lies in women’s less-than-exemplary decision making. A key element of leadership is the ability to make wise, timely and forceful decisions, yet so many women appear to have been raised with a reluctance to stand tall and say, “let’s do it!” Is it true that women change their minds more than men or is this a myth? Is procrastination more of a problem for women than for men? Are powerful women often stymied by “paralysis of analysis?”
Even today, lifelong subconscious beliefs may prevent some capable women from aiming too high. Career limiting beliefs may have been implanted in these females as young children, by parents, by teachers at school and surprisingly by classmates and playmates, including other girls. Certainly the male-leadership bias is not as prevalent today as when we were young. (In the fifties, my mother urged my sister as a young girl to major in Home Economics at a local university which back then had a high male to female ratio of 5 to 1. Mom’s advice, “You’ll learn to cook and find a great husband at Podunk State U!”)
Why do women more often than men experience guilt which in turn makes them feel they don’t deserve genuine career success? I’m certain a lot of it stems from a woman’s natural motherly instincts–after all, we men did not house our cherished offspring for nine months in our wombs. In truth, a wife should experience no more guilt than her husband over neglecting child-rearing and family responsibilities. A vital issue today: how best can a successful, career-driven wife get her husband to share 50/50 in mundane parenting and household duties? After a full day at the office, is it fair that she discipline the kids, wash the cloths then scrub the floors while her husband watches TV, scans the Internet or goes out bowling with the guys?
So how can you ladies who aspire for new heights regain career/life balance and reclaim the power and influence you deserve? The first step is to rid your subconscious mind of any guilt emotions over career success. How old were you when the thought was planted that a man always should be primary bread-winner in the home? That idea should be long-gone! If you make more money than your husband–congratulations, you deserve it. If he’s your true loving life-partner, he will celebrate your success and confirm that it does not in any way reflect negatively on him.
Your second step is to clearly map out personal career aspirations and your intended road map to achieve them. Your third step is to share these aspirations with your husband and to ask for his support and assistance along the way. Ideally, your husband will share his career aspirations with you. As a final step, the two of you could forge a loving mutual “life-partnership compact” intended so both of you can thrive in your careers, share domestic and family responsibilities and move your marriage forward in harmony.
When we think about it, the same as race, one’s gender should play absolutely no role in determining whether a person should lead or follow. Our late daughter Kristen, a former US Navy pilot, had the drive, ambition, independence and decision-making ability equal to any man, yet she also had the sensibility and relationship building skills of the finest lady. The fact that she was born a woman in no way held her back in her career because she refused to let it.
You ladies deserve career success every bit as much as us men, if that’s indeed what you want! On the other hand, there is no worldly job more important than giving birth then nurturing, educating and raising a child to adulthood, bringing out his or her full potential. Therefore, it is perfectly fine to place career on hold when the children are young, returning to business once they reach their teens or are fully grown.
Ladies, if you are middle age and just now considering a return to the workforce, please be certain you first reprogram your internal mindset. Simply because you chose to take time away from career for home and children does not in any way disqualify you from holding a responsible position now, advancing up the career ladder or leading others as you resume your career and move forward! Household and family skills demonstrate both leadership and responsibility and you’re far from too old to thrive in business. Furthermore, you can catch up with any technological obsolescence.
For an extended discussion about the power of women in business and how you can apply your own skills, please tune into the September 2, 2013 weekly broadcast of my Internet radio program, “Middle Age Can Br Your Best Age,” currently playing on www.WebTalkRadio.net. On this week’s program, I interview nationally-acclaimed women’s coach, motivational speaker and trainer Janice Bastani, author of the brand new book, EVE: Reclaim Your Power. To locate my program, simply google “middle age your best age”—our program link is at the top of page one.