For far too long, it’s been a societal norm that men are in charge. Men were expected to “bring home the bacon” while women were to take care of the children on home front. The times, they are a changin’, and even former President Obama and comedian Stephen Colbert have vocalized their opinions as to why more women should be in charge in the corporate world.
Things are changing slowly as women take more and more opportunities to prove what they are capable of. For example, the recent Women’s Marches, organized around the world, were massive, national events orchestrated and spearheaded by women. Unfortunately, there are stigmas attached to strong women in managerial positions, but it’s something that several women are learning to use to their advantage.
Women have worked hard to get where they are today, including Jenna Oltersdorf, CEO of Snackbox PR. As a woman who worked for several male CEOs in her lifetime, she took notes on how things could improve with a woman in charge. She decided she wanted to be a part of the change in the industry rather than watching from the sidelines.
Jenna Oltersdorf, CEO of Snackbox PR
Women have a thorough thought process
Contrary to popular belief, women are not always irrational. When dealing with big decisions, women take their time and contemplate several different scenarios.
Often times, they’ll create a pros and cons list to look at what direction would be best in the grand scheme of things. They also tend to seek out advice from trusted officials and consider other points of view on certain situations.
Meg Whitman, CEO of Hewlett Packard.
Photo: Business Insider
Women have a diverse way of thinking
Women don’t usually see things as a contest. They think less about the end goal and more about the process of getting there. That means they are less focused on what their neighbor or competitor is doing, and more focused on their own work and how to improve it.
Women are usually more practical
The most important attribute of women may be that they are practical, not theoretical. They want to know how this new product or idea will help them. They also tend to put up with less crap in the work place. “Women tend to have little tolerance for corporate shenanigans and ethical gray areas,” Patricia Sellers, co-founder of SellersEaston Media, said in a 2014 “Fortune” magazine article.
Arianna Huffington, co-founder of Huffington Post and Thrive Global.
Women work harder than men
While I’m sure this stings the ego of some readers, it’s the truth. Women work harder than men because we have to. There is still a wage gap that women in America are fighting against and now, more than ever, it’s important for females to show companies and leaders why they deserve equal pay. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women outnumber men in general. Women make up 47 percent of the workforce, but “women still lag in leadership positions, holding only five percent of top corporate positions and a minority of positions in elected legislatures,” CNN says.
Due to the stigma that surrounds women, and women in charge, females in the workplace must work harder to prove they are worthy of the same respect as their male counterparts. Not to mention the fact that a woman’s work is never truly over. According to Pew Research Center, women still carry the brunt of responsibility in their home life as well. So basically, women are constantly working two jobs.
Women are better at multitasking
A BCM Psychology study found that while both women and men slow down when given more than one task, the women in the study outperformed the men in the multi-tasking paradigms. Considering the aforementioned Pew Research study, women are constantly multitasking between working and being in charge at home, so it only makes sense that they would perform better than men in this aspect. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, women are more likely than men to earn a bachelor’s degree by age 29. This is usually done while working one or two jobs at the same time as taking classes.
“Americans tend to describe leadership with tough male stereotypes, but recent leadership studies show increased success for what was once considered a ‘feminine style,’” wrote Joseph Nye, of CNN.
A new CNN/ORC poll found that eight in 10 Americans say the country is ready for its first female president. A shift is on the horizon and as a female CEO, Jenna is honored to be a part of it.
Women in the workplace have always experienced a certain degree of discrimination from male colleagues, and according to new studies, it appears that it is becoming even more difficult for women to get acclimated to modern day work environments, in wake of the #MeToo Movement.
In a recent study conducted by LeanIn.org, in partnership with SurveyMonkey, 60% of male managers confessed to feeling uncomfortable engaging in social situations with women in and outside of the workplace. This includes interactions such as mentorships, meetings, and basic work activities. This statistic comes as a shocking 32% rise from 2018.
What appears the be the crux of the matter is that men are afraid of being accused of sexual harassment. While it is impossible to discredit this fear as incidents of wrongful accusations have taken place, the extent to which it has burgeoned is unacceptable. The #MeToo movement was never a movement against men, but an empowering opportunity for women to speak up about their experiences as victims of sexual harassment. Not only were women supporting one another in sharing to the public that these incidents do occur, and are often swept under the rug, but offered men insight into behaviors and conversations that are typically deemed unwelcomed and unwarranted.
Restricting interaction with women in the workplace is not a solution, but a mere attempt at deflecting from the core issue. Resorting to isolation and exclusion relays the message that if men can't treat women how they want, then they rather not deal with them at all. Educating both men and women on what behaviors are unacceptable while also creating a work environment where men and women are held accountable for their actions would be the ideal scenario. However, the impact of denying women opportunities of mentorship and productive one-on-one meetings hinders growth within their careers and professional networks.
Women, particularly women of color, have always had far fewer opportunities for mentorship which makes it impossible to achieve growth within their careers without them. If women are given limited opportunities to network in and outside of a work environment, then men must limit those opportunities amongst each other, as well. At the most basic level, men should be approaching female colleagues as they would approach their male colleagues. Striving to achieve gender equality within the workplace is essential towards creating a safer environment.
While restricted communication and interaction may diminish the possibility of men being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment, it creates a hostile
environment that perpetuates women-shaming and victim-blaming. Creating distance between men and women only prompts women to believe that male colleagues who avoid them will look away from or entirely discredit sexual harassment they experience from other men in the workplace. This creates an unsafe working environment for both parties where the problem at hand is not solved, but overlooked.
According to LeanIn's study, only 85% of women said they feel safe on the job, a 5% drop from 2018. In the report, Jillesa Gebhardt wrote, "Media coverage that is intended to hold aggressors accountable also seems to create a sense of threat, and people don't seem to feel like aggressors are held accountable." Unfortunately, only 16% of workers believed that harassers holding high positions are held accountable for their actions which inevitably puts victims in difficult, and quite possibly dangerous, situations. 50% of workers also believe that there are more repercussions for the victims than harassers when speaking up.
In a research poll conducted by Edison Research in 2018, 30% of women agreed that their employers did not handle harassment situations properly while 53% percent of men agreed that they did. Often times, male harassers hold a significant amount of power within their careers that gives them a sense of security and freedom to go forward with sexual misconduct. This can be seen in cases such as that of Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby and R. Kelly. Men in power seemingly have little to no fear that they will face punishment for their actions.
Source-Alex Brandon, AP
Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook executive and founder of LeanIn.org., believes that in order for there to be positive changes within work environments, more women should be in higher positions. In an interview with CNBC's Julia Boorstin, Sandberg stated, "you know where the least sexual harassment is? Organizations that have more women in senior leadership roles. And so, we need to mentor women, we need to sponsor women, we need to have one-on-one conversations with them that get them promoted." Fortunately, the number of women in leadership positions are slowly increasing which means the prospect of gender equality and safer work environments are looking up.
Despite these concerning statistics, Sandberg does not believe that movements such as the Times Up and Me Too movements, have been responsible for the hardship women have been experiencing in the workplace. "I don't believe they've had negative implications. I believe they're overwhelmingly positive. Because half of women have been sexually harassed. But the thing is it is not enough. It is really important not to harass anyone. But that's pretty basic. We also need to not be ignored," she stated. While men may be feeling uncomfortable, putting an unrealistic amount of distance between themselves and female coworkers is more harmful to all parties than it is beneficial. Men cannot avoid working with women and vice versa. Creating such a hostile environment is also detrimental to any business as productivity and communication will significantly decrease.
The fear or being wrongfully accused of sexual harassment is a legitimate fear that deserves recognition and understanding. However, restricting interactions with women in the workplace is not a sensible solution as it can have negatively impact a woman's career. Companies are in need of proper training and resources to help both men and women understand what is appropriate workplace behavior. Refraining from physical interactions, commenting on physical appearance, making lewd or sexist jokes and inquiring about personal information are also beneficial steps towards respecting your colleagues' personal space. There is still much work to be done in order to create safe work environments, but with more and more women speaking up and taking on higher positions, women can feel safer and hopefully have less contributions to make to the #MeToo movement.