So Few Women Leaders. . .
Hello Athenas! I’m back, and this time, wish to discuss an issue which has been in my mind for a long time. By this, I mean almost a decade and a half. And the issue is this: since half of the world’s population is comprised of women, how come there are so few women in leadership roles in all walks of life?
Granted, women have come a long way since medieval times. This transformation started with the suffragette movement in Europe and North America more than a century ago. In those days, women did not even have the right to vote, leave alone having a say in public affairs. It was considered unladylike behavior for a woman to discuss politics and business. Things have changed now and women are making huge strides in all fields. BUT this development has NOT translated into leadership positions for women on a large scale.
Consider this. There are nearly 200 independent countries in the world out of which less than 20 are led by women. And can anyone tell me how many of the Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs? This state of affairs genuinely puzzles me. Every year, girls are topping Board / university examinations and competitive examinations more than the guys. So why aren’t we able to translate academic success into securing leading roles in the world of business, politics, scientific research, etc? It’s surely not due to lack of trying.
Nowadays, working women are no longer a rarity as they used to be in my grandmother’s generation (who retired as a government schoolteacher), but a woman’s income is still considered to be a secondary income in the family. Indian families are more forthcoming these days and allow their daughters to go to work, but when these working girls complain about gender discrimination, they are told to stop cribbing. They have a job after all, don’t they? And God forbid women should strive for leading roles! Most of the male workforce has ego issues when it comes to reporting to women bosses. And many women do not like to see their colleagues advance in their careers. For a woman, a career should always take second place to her family. No, don’t berate me yet. I know and understand the importance of family and family values, but why is it that it’s always a woman’s career which has to take a backseat once she becomes a wife and mother? Why can’t the men in the family make some adjustments and encourage their wives to follow their dreams? Unthinkable, isn’t it? THAT’S the reality, sisters.
If, in spite of all these obstacles, women somehow manage to get into top positions, they are categorized as arrogant, unapproachable, egotistical and power-hungry. Renowned investment guru and multi-billionaire Warren Buffett once said that one of the reasons for his success was that he was competing against only half the population. Magnanimous words indeed from the great man.
Women like Sarojini Naidu, Indira Gandhi, Suchitra Kripalani, Kiran Bedi Indira Nooyi, Margaret Thatcher and Sheryl Sandberg have made it into top positions not because they did not have any obstacles in their path, but in spite of them. These ladies are shining examples, but we need more like them in order to give the term EQUALITY true meaning.
So come on Athenas, let’s strive to become leaders in our chosen fields.