Thursday, September 23, 2004

Women and The Glass Ceiling

In LeaderValues

I was contacted today by LeaderValues for permission to publish a couple of my articles. In reviewing their web site, I stumbled upon this provocative article written in 1998 by Helen Peters of Hagberg Consulting Group, who specialize in the assessment and development of executive leadership and organizational effectiveness. The article starts out like this:

• Recent research indicates women's management style, which is centered on communication and building positive relationships, is well suited to the leadership paradigm of the 90's. However, the strategies used by women to reach mid-management levels are preventing them from breaking through the glass ceiling. There are specific things women must start doing and stop doing if they want to move into the executive suite. The research is of obvious importance to women managers, but has implications for men as well. To be successful, both men and women must be able to get bottom-line results through people-oriented leadership practices.

In 1971 I got my first real job. I quickly learned many of the realities of life, among them that women could not be managers. We were not worth investing in because we would just get married, get pregnant, and quit. We were too emotional. In fact, once a month we would do something that remained undefined, but was assumed to be totally unacceptable. Most importantly, we would be taking a good job from a man who really needed it, and by implication, deserved it. 

Times changed ...

It goes on further to report that progress up the corporate ladder will require women to do five things:

1. Start focusing energy.

2. Start taking risks.

3. Stop getting mired in the details.

4. Stop rescuing and mothering.

5. Stop making things right or wrong.

I couldn't help think that the five steps apply to both making progress up the corporate ladder and owning a business. Interesting.

For women who are still trying to make it in the corporate world instead of charging out on their own, this is a worthwhile read. The full article, regardless that it is six years old, can be found here: Women and The Glass Ceiling (1998)

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