It is a shocking fact, particularly when we consider that a distinct effort is being made to increase the number of women, at least at entry level. Women’s networks such as that run by graduate recruiter, bright network and organisations such as WIB work hard to achieve a near even mix of men and women; however, the boardroom is still a male dominated affair.
I have had the rewarding opportunity of teaching children about gender. I have challenged them to reevaluate what they think is ‘real’, ‘innate’ and ‘right’. Through this process it has become increasingly more obvious why women aren’t rising up the ranks.
“Girls aren’t applauded for being confident
– they are precocious not impressive.”
My first ever nickname was ‘little miss chatterbox’ and such labels, perhaps ‘cute’ but silencing are not unusual.
So the reason why women haven’t yet made it to the board room, well one of them at least is quite simple, men are socialized to be more assertive and dominant than women.
I was lucky enough to interview Sophie, who is studying for her MA at Oxford University and who discussed how her male friends would talk without worrying about content or experience but she would rarely feel that she could speak out.
It was not necessarily that a man spoke over her, it is far more subtle and much more powerful than that. It’s the little voice that pops up in a woman’s head that says:
‘you’re talking too much’
The little voice that has been there since the day we were labeled ‘little miss chatterbox’ in reception. And which grew into an ironically assertive voice when we were labeled ‘precocious’ in primary school. Finally that voice became a stubborn shout when we were told off for ‘distracting the boys’ in sixth form.
So it’s not at all surprising that in a situation in which being assertive pays, fewer women achieve. We have simply not been educated to succeed.