Woah, steady on me! Am I now blaming women for centuries of discrimination? Adding to the guilt which we women are so good at carrying around? (Erica Jong- “Show me a woman who doesn’t feel guilty and I’ll show you a man”). Has it really been been our fault all along!
Well, no, of course not. But I am suggesting that maybe it’s time to examine what is going on in our heads and how much that is a barrier to our progress. Maybe we create some of our own limitations based on what we see around us and if we could free ourselves from that straitjacket we may find ourselves smashing that glass ceiling! Regardless of what is going on around us…
It takes some doing to cast off the images and impressions that we have grown up with. We’re in a kind of double bind; legislation has changed in our favour and most organisations at the very least pay lip service to the idea of gender equality, if not actively promote it. Yet there are still few women in senior positions and the role models are mainly male. The behaviour rewarded is generally male. Maybe we women look at those roles and think “I don’t want to be like that, that’s not my style, that’s not me”. That’s certainly true of a lot of the women I coach; what’s on offer doesn’t appeal and many of them end up running their own businesses or dropping out of the competition. (Sam Roddick is a great example of what I mean, see her interview with me here).
Grab the Opportunities
And there is research out there telling us that women are being hardest hit by the recession and that we are still underpaid in comparison to our male colleagues etc. All pretty dispiriting stuff. If we’re not careful we can be overwhelmed and begin to think that there is no point in trying. The truth is it’s not easy for any one, man or woman, to get to a senior position. Yes, I still believe it is harder for a woman for all sorts of reasons but it’s clearly not impossible and I think it’s eminently desirable. There is a lot on offer to help us, if we choose to take advantage of it, like the government saying it is considering imposing quotas for the number of women on British boards if there isn’t a change. What better time to try for a seat on the board! I’ve spoken with some recruitment companies who tell me that they are being asked to put more women on the shortlists they submit but are having trouble finding enough!
So take a few moments to reflect and ask yourself honestly, am I my biggest barrier to career advancement? And if you come up with a yes, you’re not alone. And I’m not having a go at you; there are good reasons why we feel as we do. Yet I know from my coaching of professional women that once we get our heads in the right place, it all becomes a lot easier. Have the confidence to just go for it!
“We are not touched so much by events themselves but by the view we choose to take of them” Epictetus. Choose a different view and the world could be your oyster!
Posted on January 10th, 2012 by Jane