We’ve all see the sad statistics about inequality at the top. Only 56 of 146 (38%) nations surveyed have ever had a female head of state. The total number of female CEO in Fortune 500 companies is 29 (5.8%). Representation on boards is just as bleak at around 12% occupying only 4% of chairmanship positions. Even in female-dominated industries like counseling, public relations, and psychotherapy the majority of leadership positions are held by men. The question of the year is, how do we get more women in power?
Looking back at history, we can see that major shifts in social equity tend to come about from a key event that exposes the absurdity of the current situation. Rosa Parks’ refusal to give up her seat on a bus launched a wave of dissent that forever changed the United States.
The challenge with the leadership gap is that it’s not so extreme. There are women who have clawed their way to the top. But those women made it, not in-spite of being a woman but because they were able to play as if they were men. The women leaders of our time have had to be fierce competitors, brutality decisive, and shield their emotions. This has created a model of female leadership that is distasteful for both men and women. The innate characteristics of female leaders being inclusive coalition builders have been nonexistent.
To narrow the leadership gap we can’t just look at women to make changes, system changes are needed too. We need a society that values the diversity of issues and skills that women bring to the table. Women shouldn’t have to have short hair and wear pantsuits to be taken seriously. We shouldn’t need to be aggressive to assert our opinions. Our measure of success can’t be how well you play the game but how much you change the rules.
What will you do to change the game?