Women make up 47% of the U.S. workforce, earn more higher learning degrees than men and control 70% of a household's spending. However, we tend to hold about 21% of senior leadership positions. If we understand financial responsibility, earn more education, and are almost equal in our working numbers, why do we not have a strong presence in leadership?
Female leadership faces many barriers in today’s fast-paced world that many of us would have thought long outdated. The idea that we cannot earn the same as a man or reach the high echelons of business leadership should be considered a historical fact from the past instead of current reality.
So, what is stopping us? What are the barriers to seeing more female leadership in the United States?
1 - Sexism towards women
Nearly 81% of all women experience sexual harassment, including that found in the workplace. The primary form is verbal, with unwelcome sexual touching a close second. The problem is this type of gender difference can be far more subtle. Instead of letting your voice be heard in a meeting, you are constantly interrupted by male colleagues, or you are suddenly mistaken for the intern taking coffee orders. The bar for women to achieve in the workplace is simply so much higher or nonexistent that some men will consider you not relevant to a company’s success.
2 - Gender Bias against women
I will say it, assertive women are considered “bitchy.” Do I believe that? Of course not. When a woman leader is willing to assert her opinions, ideas, or even factual information, she is suddenly viewed as overtly forceful because that behavior is outside typical gender stereotypes. This is plainly ridiculous and forces women to behave in more traditional methods in order to get any work done.
3 - Women and lack of Self Promotion
According to recent research, women are less likely to seek promotions or career advancement because they are overly concerned with how seeking better outcomes will be viewed. We are so hard on ourselves that we frequently underestimate our skills and talents and stay quiet while men of far fewer capabilities are promoted above us.
4 - Fighting the “Boys Clubs”
Men have spent generations developing societies, sports clubs, and other social activities where deals and partnerships are developed. When women are introduced into these atmospheres, they are often placed in the role of conquest instead of equal. This reduces the ability of female leaders to establish a network of support when seeking to achieve goals.
5 - Women’s Family Responsibilities
Yes, we are designed to be more caring. Why should that matter? I can just as quickly hire a nanny or ask my partner to stay home while I focus on my career. If dishes are to be done, we find a compromise that works in a relationship. Unfortunately, that is not the current case. The “traditional woman” is still one that society views should be sitting at home taking care of the kids and cleaning the house. This will be an uphill battle for years to come.
6 - Lack of Family Support for Women
The role of a father, brother, uncle, and distant cousin plays in the independence and authority of a woman is surprisingly high. Women who are raised or live in an environment where daily tasks are shared equally by everyone in the household do better in leadership throughout life. This is because the gender bias society places on a woman is not ingrained at the personal level and offers us to buck against stereotypes.
7 - Lack of Female Role Models
The barriers to female leadership will continue its vicious circle if there are not enough willing to shatter past these ceilings and demonstrate their iron will. Young women need to see older role models destroying these barriers. They need to know the possibility is present and can be achieved by anyone willing to step up to bat. That includes stopping any tearing down of each other by other women. We need to support one another so more female role models can make their mark on society.
An excellent way to break through many of these barriers is to eliminate financial concerns from your daily decision-making. You should have the freedom to take risks and push back against gender stereotypes. A key element to that power is having a solid financial foundation.
That is where we can help. At Meyers Financial Services, we provide insight and guidance for strong female leaders. My team will listen closely to your goals and future needs and help establish a financial package that you can rely upon. Give us a call today to schedule a meeting, and let’s take one problem off your very full plate.
Lillian Meyers CFP®, CDFA®, EA is a Financial Planner for Women in Sonoma, California helping clients live their best life through the use of financial planning, investment management, and other sophisticated financial options.