We are continually encountering people who choose equalism over feminism even though they are both the same thing. There are claims that point towards the fading of unequal opportunities. Did the world suddenly become the same for men and women? So, I started wondering why there aren’t enough women in leadership roles out there.

What is a glass ceiling?

It is an unseen barrier that prevents minorities and women from achieving bigger goals in terms of career. There are a lot of factors that come into play in this like gender bias. Gender bias is when you don’t associate the qualities necessary to be in charge with the qualities of a woman. For example, women are expected to be compassionate and understanding and leaders are supposed to be assertive and dominant. A woman who is doing both is too much for our brains. This is also known as second-generation gender bias.  Women constantly have to prove their credibility because they are not “natural” leaders like men.  They are entrenched in this conundrum where they have to be authoritative but also likeable.

Also Read: Companies Lazy at Finding Women Leaders: Ex-SEBI Chief M Damodaran

In a country like India, what are the obstacles a woman has to face?

More women in South Asia are illiterate than men. Lesser women go for higher studies and enter the employment pool. Women are the primary caregivers in a family. Men do help but it is significantly less than a woman in terms of child care and housework. Women tend to take more time with their families so men end up undertaking more hours of paid labour and have more years of job experience. We are perceived as more erratic and emotional and less preferred for leadership roles. Scarcity of female corporate officers is the sum of discrimination that has operated at all levels. The discrimination women face leaves a negative impact on their self-confidence and ambition.

 Wait, but what about the women who have succeeded?

In 2018, women held around 20% of senior roles in India and 29% globally and it is increasing which is great news but a study done by Catalyst of Fortune 1000 female executives found that 96% of them rated as critical or fairly important that they develop a style that would make the management comfortable or in others they felt like they should be less intimidating.  Assertiveness and self-promotion are seen as negative qualities in a woman whereas it is completely normal for a man. Women are expected to find the right balance between work and family and presentability to succeed.

Also Read: Why Women Leaders Are Important In Crisis Response

How do we bridge this gap?

Stop challenging work with family responsibilities. Don’t let them juggle between likability and ambitions. Identify bias that prevents women from being considered for leadership roles. Give importance for productivity over hours spent on a project because a lot of them probably have to go back to their families.

Countries that have women leaders like New Zealand and Germany were able to overcome the worldwide pandemic much better than capitalist giants like the US. Women have proven remarkably well that they are capable of more than what they are given credit for. Author and historian Yuval Noah Harari wrote that women only compete for bronze. Are we in the wrong to be ambitious and strive for gold?

Aparna Mammen is an intern with Shethepeople.Tv. The views expressed are the author’s own.

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