My friends and I have had many discussions about women in the workplace. The gender pay gap is usually a controversial topic. While the younger feminists hold women accountable for their “lack of ambition”, and the older ones cite socio cultural barriers, I think both sets of underlying pathology contribute to the visible symptoms.

There is no denying there are institutional factors inherent in corporate expectations of employees that challenge the generally accepted social expectations for women. The pandemic made it amply clear by its disproportionate repercussions on the labor market. However, it is also correct that a significant shift in how girls are socialized is having an effect on attitudes towards marriage and family versus professional careers and entrepreneurship. With diversity policies and mentorship programs in place, young entrants are working in a very different environment.

In my opinion, the challenge is that the decision making groups still hold on to their biases which makes it unwise for women to ignore them. The training classes and research that encourage women to speak up, be confident, and ambitious need to simultaneously help them assess their audience and environment before adopting practices that might hurt their careers. Also since it is unPC to admit to such notions, training for the more senior managers needs to create safe spaces where the biases can be admitted, discussed and solutioned.

As parent of two newly minted recruits in the workforce, I was particularly diligent in following the research. I observed not just my own daughters, but their friends and all other girls that wandered into my orbit, to see how gender neutral practices affect life trajectories. Fear of failure to conform and succeed emerged as the clear causal link over the years, and as a result, I had to change my own behavior.

The need to be proficient in the requirements for positions had always dictated my choices, and I still battle the occasional hesitation (and moments of panic!) when I am not familiar with processes. But I had to walk the walk, demonstrating that believing in my abilities and taking the risk of moving to a position for which I was not fully qualified was the right thing to do, even if it causes uneasiness, and periodic hyperventilation. As always, there is no one right answer, instead the key skills are awareness and adaptability.

Pan American Health Org

The American Association of University Women (AAUW) on the STEM gap

#womenleaders #societyandculture #inclusionanddiversity #genderpaygap #feminism

LinkedIn “Women need to take more risks”
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