When Lucille Ball starred in I Love Lucy, she had been considered a failed B-list actress. She went on to become the first woman to run a major television studio and would earn the Presidential Medal of Freedom. She was a groundbreaker, paving the way for other women to follow suit. Unfortunately, as Sheryl Sandberg recently pointed out, women made so much progress for so long that no one noticed when the progress stopped. So what can we do to level the playing field and get women progressing in business once again?
Today only 17% of startups have a female founder. This is in spite of the fact that women owned businesses have grown at a rate nearly twice that of businesses in general over the last couple of decades. Women owned businesses account for 31% of all privately-held businesses, according to the National Association of Women Business Owners, but they are responsible for only 14% of employment and 12% of revenues in the United States.
According to the 2016 Women in the Workplace Study, “Only 40% of women are interested in becoming top executives, compared to 56% of men. Women and men worry equally about work-life balance and company politics. However, women with and without children are more likely to say they don’t want the pressure, and women who want a top job anticipate a steeper path than men who do.” Creating a work environment that recognizes that people have lives outside of work and that work is part of our identities as people is key to getting more women into leadership roles. Paid parental leave policies can have a huge impact on work-life balance and allowing parents to maintain their sense of identity within their chosen career.
There are steps that women can take to bolster their career skills including:
- Writing down goals and working toward them
- Identifying adversity and working to overcome it
- Take time to rest and recharge – you can’t pour from an empty vessel
- Learn how to balance it all and anticipate hiccups
Learn more about successful women in the workplace from this infographic. There isn’t a one size fits all solution to getting more women into top positions in the workforce, but every bit of change can make a big impact. There are many policies out there that are working- they just need to be found and replicated so more women can benefit from them.