by Megan Totka
Some women want a higher position but are stalled as they worry about how to balance work, life, and family. In a Pew Research Center survey from October, 59 percent of millennial women say that being a working parent made it harder to advance in their career, compared to just 19 percent of millennial men. However, the tables are turning.
Take a look at December 2013 – it was a big month in history: Mary Barra announced she will become General Motors first female chief executive officer. She’s moved up the ladder over a span of 33 years and when she starts her new position, she joins the ranks of 23 other women who head Fortune 500 companies. Barra is the first female to lead a major automaker. News like this is certainly not earth-shattering given the position of women on the executive stage but it does show that females are still making in-roads in otherwise male-dominated industries. Women are getting better at speaking up about their capabilities – and the workforce is responding in kind. Take a look at just a few of the reasons women have to be encouraged as they move up corporate ladders:
Many Women Want More Responsibility
This reason is a great one – many women want to climb the rungs of the company ladder. It used to be common for more men to express interest in promotions and positions of leadership because women felt the weight of obligations at home. Working mothers are actually more likely than working fathers to experience family-related career interruptions leading to fewer working hours, time off, turning down a promotion or even quitting their job. However, more women have realized that those who advance to higher positions often have greater control and are able to better address personal needs.
There are changes going on within companies too. Together, the HR departments and leaders are realizing it is a good plan to make the work environment more conducive to women and level the playing field – and more businesses are taking action. A 2013 National Association for Female Executives report lists the top 50 companies for executive women including employers like AT&T and Target. These companies are making an effort to build a culture that identifies, encourages, and nurtures successful women.
Most Employees are Indifferent about the Gender of Their Boss
Most adult U.S. workers have no preference on the gender of their boss, while 35 percent prefer a male boss instead of a female boss (23 percent). However, the number of workers who prefer a female boss has risen steadily over the last 50 years from just 5 percent in 1953.
Women Have an Edge on Leadership
When it comes to men versus women, many women are considered better than or equal to men in many leadership qualities. Women often possess people skills that instill trust and build rapport. A 2007 Pew Research Center survey showed women scored higher in areas such as honesty and compassion too. Women have a progressive, modern way to lead employees that tends to be more collaborative and engaging than the leadership styles of men. Women frequently use positive incentives to motivate their employees and act as a teacher and motivator. Moms tend to have even more favor with their employees and have specific leadership strengths that parenting has taught them.
Over half of all families have two breadwinners, which confirms the importance of women in the workforce. For women who want to climb the business ladder, stay positive. The future looks bright for you.
How do you think women contribute to the American workforce?
Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.