We have come a long way for women’s equality in the past 50 years, and while it seems like there are more female leaders than ever, there is still a shocking gap between how many men leaders there are vs women leaders.
Myths like women leaders don’t work as hard as men, and only men lead successful companies are reasons there aren’t more women leaders. Read about 6 existing myths that make it hard for women to move into senior management positions.
Myth #1 Women Aren’t Natural Leaders
There are traits that we perceive as “feminine” or “masculine”. For example, the traits of being “emotional” or “soft” are perceived as being feminine traits. It’s not necessarily true that all women have feminine traits or that men do not contain these traits. Regardless of gender, everyone has to suppress or allow different traits to come through depending on the situation. Good leaders are able to express certain leadership traits. Both men and women in leadership positions need to provide performance management solutions. It takes someone who is good at problem-solving and communicating to provide these solutions, and it’s not only men that are able to do this. Men and women are both able to develop leadership traits, proving that women can be leaders.
Myth #2 Men Lead All Successful Companies
When you look around in business, it seems like a man’s world, however, the proportion of senior business roles held by women is at 24%. Six in ten businesses have at least one woman in a senior management position. The fact is, this myth is not true. Women haven’t had as many opportunities to lead successful companies, but men are not the only ones making successful companies.
Myth #3 Women Don’t Work as Hard as Men
If that is what you believe, do your research. In 2016 it was found that women work 39 days more per year. Not only do women work more, but they are only earning $0.77 for every $1.00 a man earns. Yes, people are more aware of gender and equality these days, but women still do most of the unpaid home labour. At work, women report that they feel as though they have to work twice as hard as men just to be seen as equals at work. This is something we need to change. If we keep moving as we are, it will take until 2186 for women to reach economic equality with men.
Myth #4 Women Shouldn’t Make Jokes
The myth is that women leaders who joke around will not be taken seriously. Having a good sense of humour is not something you see on every list of leadership traits, but perhaps it should be. It is important to be able to take jokes from workers and be able to give them back from time to time. As we know, laughter is contagious and can help encourage people in a different way. When you laugh there is a chemical reaction that occurs in your brain that increases creativity and productivity. Just like men, women can make jokes when appropriate without being unprofessional.
Myth #5 Having Children Holds Women Back
It is often assumed that women take a career break to have children. This can mean that they will fall behind their male colleagues. However, most women with children work. 72% of married or cohabiting mothers work, and 60% of single mothers have a job. Having children doesn’t necessarily mean that you will fall behind in your career goals.
Myth #6 Fewer Women = Unavoidable Gender Inequality
Women do not hold fewer leadership positions because there are fewer of them in the workforce. Women make up 47% of the labour force. There is a nearly equal amount of women are working as men, yet there are far fewer women in management roles.
Women are an important part of strategic leadership, and it’s time to put these myths to rest. Women work just as hard, if not harder than men, and there are plenty of females contributing their skills to the workforce. A gender bias does exist, and if we don’t do anything about it, it will continue to endure.
Annabelle Smyth is a freelance writer who covers everything from HR to technology and leadership skills. Her most recent work involves partnership marketing with Bamboo HR and CMOE where she has had the opportunity to learn about the relationship between leadership and successful businesses.