Post by Jane K. Stimmler, contributing Women On Business writer
As a new contributor to the site, I plan to be blogging on a number of practical things women can do to improve their chances of getting ahead in the business world. Many of these will be based on tips from my new book, Breaking Into the Boys’ Club, coming out next month. I will cover subjects such as communication, networking, promoting yourself, political savvy, mentoring, and presenting yourself with impact and presence. In thinking about how to get started, I realized I need to set the stage a bit as to why women need special tips and tools in the workplace.
We have gotten lulled, I believe, in the past couple of years, by a number of women trailblazers who have attained high-profile leadership positions in the business world and in politics. There are several new women CEOs in Fortune 500 companies, a woman Speaker of the House, a female major network news anchor, and several women who are Ivy League University Presidents, to name a few. And, while this is surely a welcomed trend, these high profile successes belie the realities of the business world – and the continued woeful shortage of women in top leadership positions.
Though women are attending college and graduate schools in record numbers, and hold about half of the general “management and professional positions” in organizations, we still comprise only about 15% of the officer level positions in the largest global companies, are a mere 7% of the top wage earners, hold only about 2.5% of the CEO positions and, on average, make only 73% of what men do.
So, why are women still such a small proportion of the powerful, high-paying job positions?
Historically, men have dominated the workplace – and established the rules of the organizational culture. As more and more women enter this domain, they encounter ingrained male-dominated environments that, to them, are unwelcoming and inflexible. And no wonder! Women’s working styles and talents are vastly different from men’s, and the “rules” men have created don’t fit women. Unfortunately, to date, there haven’t been enough powerful women to change the way business is run – in fact, a high number of women flee their situations before they can make a significant impact.
For women to succeed, more of us need to stay with it. To do that, it helps to understand some of the obstacles we may face and to acknowledge the very real differences (verified by research and science!) between us and our male colleagues. Then we can take a hard look at ourselves and our business environments, determine the best way to be successful where we are, and make adjustments to our approach as necessary.
What I will write about in my blog will deal with some of the issues and challenges of women in the workplace. I strongly believe that we can make strategic changes that will result in positive outcomes – without sacrificing our style and identity. And one more important thing…all this potential “change” I mention is a very personal choice which will not be right for everyone. But if you want to try to get ahead in a male-dominated business world, and are willing to try some new tactics –you’ll get them in this column. I welcome to your feedback and questions!