Despite the fact that it’s 2017, many women still face unique challenges in the workplace that can lead to stress and even a hit to their self-confidence. It’s time to delve into those challenges and find ways to overcome them, both for the women themselves and for their male peers. One of the questions that are being asked more and more is, “Why aren’t there more women in business?” Take a look at this chart for an idea of just how low the numbers are when it comes to female board members.
“While the numbers are growing, there are still too few female investors and startup entrepreneurs, which can make it more challenging to raise capital and find mentors. Network and you will discover that there are plenty of women and men who are eager to advocate for and mentor female entrepreneurs,” says Megan Smyth, CEO and co-founder of FitReserve, a health and wellness company for women.
One of the biggest challenges women face is how they are perceived by their peers and employees. Too lenient, and everyone will think you’re a pushover; too aggressive, and you are labeled as “harsh” or “disagreeable”. It’s difficult to find your footing sometimes, which can throw off your confidence. The best way to overcome this issue is to simply be yourself. Don’t let the expectations of others define your management style, and don’t allow your confidence to shrivel up over what other people think. You must do what is right for you and for your company; at the end of the day, no one can make it work but you.
It’s also important to take ownership of your decisions and accomplishments. Many women feel that talking about their own successes comes across as being boastful, and they’re also afraid that letting people know that the business belongs to a woman will make it seem less important. Let go of that fear and own the good stuff. You’ve been through a lot to make it this far and you deserve to take credit for everything that’s gone right.
Many women in business say that the rise to a position of power is a cruel, difficult one, especially if they are surrounded by males who have more years of experience. It can be hard to convince some people that you truly rose to the top on merit alone, so don’t even try. Let your work speak for itself and don’t listen to those voices that try to knock you down a peg.
Balancing a career with a family is one of the biggest issues women face today, yet it’s rarely a problem for men. Women are expected to be involved in their children’s lives as much as possible, maintain a home, and run their careers flawlessly, but the same expectations don’t always apply to men. One way to overcome this is to create a workspace that values the roles men play in their family lives, meaning they will receive paid time off for maternity leave just as a woman would. As for juggling all those responsibilities? Don’t feel guilty if you can’t make every soccer game or school play. You can make sure your child knows you’re taking an active interest in their life by getting organized so that you can stay on top of things like homework and extracurricular activities, and carve time out of your schedule for family time that doesn’t include answering emails or looking at your phone.
Women, it seems, still have a long road ahead of them in order to be treated as equals in the workplace, but it’s getting better. Knowing how to face these obstacles–and any others that may pop up–with courage and dignity will help you get through them unscathed.
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