What Does The Data Tell Us About How To Close The Gender Gap In Leadership?

Closing the gender gap in leadership is a heavily debated topic in Australia, as well as the rest of the world. Many studies are done to assess the current state of gender equality in the talent lifecycle of Australians firms from hiring to reaching the top as well as the discrepancies that exist in pay and working conditions. 

It’s no secret that there is a gender gap in many aspects of the working life in Australia and across the globe. We have so many statistics to prove it. 

For instance, male entrepreneurs are more than twice as likely to raise more than $100,000 in investor funding. Only 40% of most management roles are women and the number gets smaller and smaller as you move up the ladder. 

So using available data, what can we learn about how we could close the gap and shatter the glass ceiling?

The Ambition is There – Women Want to Be Leaders 

According to a recent study done by SEEK, women ‘show appetite for leadership’ – 50% of men and 48% of women indicated they want to pursue a leadership role in their career. In the same study, women selected mentoring staff, being respected in the firm/industry, and professional growth as the top 3 reasons for wanting a leadership role. Men, on the other hand, chose feeling accomplished, higher salary, and being entrusted with more responsibilities to deliver results as theirs. 

Understanding and Bridging Our Differences

Things can’t change overnight. At least not the kind of change that will last. The key is in understanding your male peers and superiors whose support you’d want to garner when it’s time to go after your dream leadership position. 

The same SEEK study indicated that 25% of men consider discipline as an important characteristic of an effective leader while only 8% of women agree. Emotional intelligence is more important to men. 

This means that aspiring female leaders should try to demonstrate the ability to instill discipline in the way they run their teams/meetings and highlight their skills in achieving greater efficiency when speaking with their superiors regarding career advancement. 

Furthering Education and Building Credentials

Engaging in continuous learning and ensuring that your credentials are competitive to that of your peers (male or female) is also key in establishing yourself as the best candidate for the job. Thus, it is troubling that less than ⅓ of Australia’s MBA students are female. This statistic, unsurprisingly actually, is due to the fact that more women in the prime MBA age (25 to 35 years old) have to pause their careers or education to have and raise kids. 

While men are investing in obtaining degrees that could accelerate their career growth, women are losing opportunities to gain experience and boost their resumes during some of the most crucial times in their career. In addition, once you leave the workforce, you are no longer eligible for a tax deduction for education expenses which makes it harder for women to access the financial support as men do. 

But now it’s not difficult to find affordable, flexible online MBA program in Australia for those who want to even the scales in gender representation within the MBA pool. 

Having a Better-Balanced Family Plan with a Partner

Many women worry that having a family will stall their careers. They are worried that asking for flexible work options will make them look weak or lazy; something employers might make a mental note of when it comes time to discuss career advancement. 

The system and culture around this has to change for sure. But until then, women can deal directly with their own partner. Demand fair sharing of responsibilities when it comes to taking care of your children from your partner. These conversations should happen early so that you end up with a partner who will respect your career just as much as you respect his. 

Most companies now offer paternal leaves and other similar family planning benefits to male employees. Have your partner take advantage of such program and make sure you let your manager know that you and your partner are sharing equal responsibilities; meaning that you won’t be constantly leaving early to deal to take care of the kids. 

Demonstrating the Positive Effects of Diversity Yourself

If you manage a team, try to apply the same principles you want to see in your company’s leadership team by prioritising diversity – not just diversity in gender or race but also in personalities and styles. 

Studies after studies prove the impact of diversity on performance so try to create and showcase as many examples within your own sphere that indicate the power of diversity. Bring it to the attention of your manager and leaders and openly request that they consider making more efforts to achieve gender equality. 

When done right, a certain amount of pressure cannot hurt especially if what you are pressuring them to do will end up benefiting them immensely.

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  1. Pingback: What Does The Data Tell Us About How To Close The Gender Gap In Leadership? – The Womens Edge

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