“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.

                                                                    ― Sheryl Sandberg, COO, Facebook

Women- they make excellent leaders, as history has shown us. However, upper management of most companies have a huge gender gap. Did you know that only 4.8% of women are CEOs in Fortune 500  companies? That’s just unfair! So much so, that in these Fortune 500 companies, only 25% of boardroom seats are occupied by women. This then means, there is a general lack of trust when it comes to women entrepreneurs, which is completely baseless. Let’s help the women in leadership positions better deal with people of all age groups.

Women can reach the top, But Will People Let them Stay?

Women are, slowly but surely, stepping into upper-management roles through risk-taking and mentorship-centred initiatives. However, it has been a general observation that deploying these strategies has very little to no impact. Once women are sitting in upper management positions, they are heavily outnumbered by male professionals. Even though we live in a modern-day society where gender roles have become diverse, women still face old stereotypes, particularly those of the older age. These shortcomings of society and the business world also sometimes lead to women developing the imposter syndrome, which means women themselves start feeling that their success isn’t deserved. Do we really want to live in a society where women don’t feel proud of themselves?

Many people just straight up assume that women don’t have big ambitions and they cannot be aggressive or a tough customer to impress. In addition to the same, a very strange observation was that people assume that older male members are the team leaders instead younger females. Put yourself in their shoes and ask yourself: how would you feel if someone fails to acknowledge your authority?

These lead to a vast array of problems for the woman entrepreneur and women in managerial positions. There has been a huge disconnect with regards to startup funding as well, since there is a huge gender gap in startup funding. Female founded startups only got 2% of Venture Capital funding in the entire year of 2018.

Proving the Naysayers Wrong

Women alone cannot be burdened with the task of breaking/fighting stereotypes. It is a gradual process, and in the meantime, women have to tread with extreme focus and determination to navigate the sexist notions and ideals prevalent in society, especially the business world. The key is to not to doubt your abilities, while projecting unwavering confidence and authority. In addition, there are a few things women can do to deal with sexist office people.

    1. Create An Open and Communicative Environment: Being straightforward works best whether you’re a man or a woman, but it works even better for women in business or upper management roles if they clearly say what is expected, and give room for honest feedback. Open communication and a room to talk freely for employees makes them feel valued and they will have more respect for you as an individual and as a leader, if they feel like they can honestly contribute. Open communication will also help you handle and understand stereotypes better.
    2. Results, Results, Results:  Experience matters, but it is often a far too overestimated yardstick for measuring an employees/businessperson’s worth. Help set up structures in your workplace where current results take a more pivotal place rather than anecdotal things and evidence. When you score a win, STEP UP! Own your role in success, in addition to giving your team the due credit.
    3. Stay Calm:  Women don’t need to be told how often they encounter sexist people. However, they could change the way they respond to it. Staying calm and tackling the sexist attitude with a firm determination and dedication to results and being a true leader will not only garner respect but will also show colleagues the strength in your character, that you won’t stoop to their level.

Sexism is very common! Let’s acknowledge that fact. Let’s also acknowledge the fact that it isn’t entirely up to women to “fix” sexist attitudes. Let’s create an environment where women feel like themselves and can assert themselves in business and society as they wish to.

IA Team