What a week it was!
Hillary Clinton, age 68, made history in our country as she accepted the Democratic party’s presidential nomination.
Clinton said, “Standing here as my mother’s daughter and my daughter’s mother, I’m so happy this day has come. Happy for grandmothers and little girls and everyone in between. Happy for boys and men too, because when any barrier falls in America, for anyone, it clears the way for everyone. When there are no ceilings, the sky’s the limit.”
What took us so long? I am curious to know why we are behind so many other countries who have had or currently have women as their leaders. In researching this topic I found a rather simplistic discussion by Curt Rice, the leader of Norway’s Committee on Gender Balance and Diversity, saying there are only three possible explanations for the lower number of women at the top of organizations.
- Women are not capable of doing the work that is required at the top.
- Women do not have the desire to be at the top
- There are structural impediments preventing women from reaching the top.
I bet the majority of readers are yelling out “NUMBER 3 !!” right now.
Men and women have been judged by different criteria for eons. I have seen some improvement in my lifetime depending upon the institution and circumstance but we still have a long way to go.
I have worked with some incredibly bright female leaders in business and government. I was lucky enough to work in a company where females dominated the workforce and I was never held back as I worked my way to a senior leadership position. I felt valued for my knowledge and what I brought to the table. I believe I was paid the same as my male counterparts. I know this experience is not necessarily the norm.
While there may be a higher number of progressive companies that appear to have no “gender bias” it still exists in an unhealthy way and continues to be an impediment for women seeking top leadership roles in business and government in our country.
Going back to Mr. Rice’s explanations, I agree with all three.
Yes, it is true there are women who may desire to be “at the top” but are not capable. It is also true that there are men who are not capable.
Yes, it is true that for a number of good reasons many women do not desire to be at the top of an organization. The same goes for some men.
Yes, it is true that there are structural impediments preventing women from reaching the top. This one does not relate to men. This is all ours.
There are currently 22 women world leaders, not counting Queens, a record high. And it’s nothing new. Queen Beatrix of Portugal was the reigning Monarch from 1383-1385! The historic lists are long and fascinating. Females in top leadership positions is nothing new.
It’s hard for me to believe that our country has not had a female leader due of lack of capability or desire.
Ceilings, barriers, whatever you want to call them. These invisible structures are all around us. Think about why they are there. If you happen upon one, move it aside. Make an opening. Something good may pass through.
What a week it was!