What Prevents Women From Taking Leadership Roles? 402

Women in leadership roles

Women have been facing challenges due to gender inequality and stereotyping at the workplace for years. It may sound clichéd, but sadly, this bias is still present not only in emerging and developed economies but also in mature economies. So, what’s holding back women from achieving or aspiring for leadership roles in the industry of their choice? Here’s a glimpse into my perspective. Top three contributing factors that prevent women from leading organizations and how we can work towards overcoming them.

Women are often held to higher standards, expected to take on additional responsibilities and need to continuously prove their mettle before landing that coveted leadership role. While there are women who have reached executive leadership positions, the numbers are quite low. As per the Encyclopedia of Leadership they can be viewed as “tokens” so that corporate management is not accused of discrimination.

Undesirable Social conditioning

Social conditioning plays a significant role in the scarce representation of women in leadership roles and is one of the main contributors to keeping women away from leadership positions. Women are highly influenced by the opinion of people in our lives.

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While in the early years, men are taught to be their best and to aim for the top, women are encouraged to put others before themselves.

Women in Leadership roles
Preethy Ayyappan – Principal Program Manager, Sabre Global Capability Center, Bangalore

We have all been subjected to unconscious biases that women are the homemakers and men are the breadwinners of the family. Even job interviewers pose questions to women on their marriage plans or when they expect to start a family instead of completely focusing on their skillsets. The result – men are accustomed to being more confident, assertive, and ambitious and feel entitled to leadership roles while women are conditioned to think that it is undesirable to possess such characteristics.

It is high time to increase awareness of these subconscious beliefs, question and challenge them. We need to change our story and encourage women rather than defaulting to what we’ve been told to believe for generations.

Lack of effective women networking groups

Men and Women network differently. Men network very naturally which gives them an immense advantage as it provides them with more opportunities. Women tend to establish contacts with a select few they trust. This naturally limits exposure and doesn’t clearly help in expanding knowledge or contacts. Men are often clear on what they want to achieve and how to use their contacts to get help and realize their goals. Women, however, are sceptical of approaching their contacts to initiate such discussions and hesitate before mustering the courage to ask about that long-due promotion or finding better opportunities.

To advance professionally, women need to create a strong support group and broaden their networks. This can help them by giving insights into emerging trends in their industry, opening job opportunities they may want to explore or getting insights into challenges that others have already faced and overcame. Mentoring other women can also prove to be highly rewarding.

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If women don’t develop their own influential network, they lessen the chances of reducing the gender gap at a leadership level.

Insufficient organizational support and limited opportunities

Women continue to be under-represented in top leadership positions across sectors. Thanks to this, men are the natural choice for senior leadership roles in many organizations. Due to societal conditioning and unconscious biases, corporates find it hard to accept that a woman can do the job as effectively. Women are often held to higher standards, expected to take on additional responsibilities and need to continuously prove their mettle before landing that coveted leadership role. While there are women who have reached executive leadership positions, the numbers are quite low. As per the Encyclopedia of Leadership they can be viewed as “tokens” so that corporate management is not accused of discrimination.

To advance professionally, women need to create a strong support group and broaden their networks. This can help them by giving insights into emerging trends in their industry, opening job opportunities they may want to explore or getting insights into challenges that others have already faced and overcame. Mentoring other women can also prove to be highly rewarding.

We need organizations to break these stereotypes that entrench gender concentration in leadership positions. Empowering women should be a priority. Pay discrepancies must be fixed and only the individual’s ability should be considered while evaluating candidates for leadership roles.

As a BBC article on ‘why we still distrust women leaders’ so rightly points out one of the solutions to gender equality is to change not the image of women or men but to change the image of leadership roles.

Name of the Company: Sabre Travel Technologies Private Limited, Bengaluru
Year of Incorporation: 2004
Number of Employees: 1500+
Key HR Metric:
Sabre India is a GPTW (Great Place to Work) Certified organization, which is a testimony to the benchmark HR practices we follow for our team members
Our WFA (Work from Anywhere ) Program is the best in class. It provides flexibility for team members to work out of the office or home under multiple arrangements, basis their personal needs and role requirements. Our covid care program extended for our Team Members (both during 2021 and now in 2022) covered over 15 out of 18 Nasscom best practices for COVID

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A highly dedicated and engaged program manager, Preethy Ayyappan coordinates with many teams across the organization and has been a part of the team for the last 6 years. Prior to joining Sabre, Preethy worked as a Manager for 5 years in IBM and has also worked with Sapient and Accenture in her previous stints.

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