The modern society is constantly evolving. Historically, women have shown a tremendous tolerance for change. From not being significant enough to be written down in history to creating history, women are amazing learners. However, some adages still hold women back. In her 2014 autobiography 'Yes Please', American actress Amy Poehler wrote, “It takes years as a woman to unlearn what you have been taught to be sorry for.” It is imperative that this unlearning process should start early.
While worldwide, men and women continue to advance through different fields - personal and professional with the same zeal for achievement, women still face many challenges in their professional lives as they're generally paid less for similar work and sometimes lose their ambition and opt being demotivated for being denied promotion to ascend to the highest position. Women holding power positions in the corporate arena has always been an infrequent phenomenon.
Around the world, this unequal representation of women in the corporate world, especially at the executive level, has sparked debates over the years. This phenomenon is often best described by the metaphor of “glass ceiling”, the evident but intangible hierarchical impediment that disrupts minorities and women from achieving elevated professional success. The term was first popularized in the 80s to explain the challenges women face when their careers stagnate at middle-management roles, preventing them from achieving higher leadership or executive roles. But finally, the tables seem to have started to turn.
According to Catalyst, the share of women in senior management roles globally grew to 29% in 2019. Though this is the highest number ever recorded, it still needs improvement. Further, in 2020, only 17% of CMOs and 16% of COOs are reported to be women compared to 40% of human resources directors. This signifies that there are fewer women at the top rung of the corporate pyramid. Talking about India, in 2019, women held 9% of business management roles, 8% of management roles, and were only 2% of CEOs. But that situation is rapidly changing. Businesses are gradually taking initiatives of strong and meaningful mentorship of highly qualified women executive candidates and organizational ecosystem is becoming unbiased to support women to excel in their career. Certainly, women have begun to expand their positions and will persist towards progress with equality. With the current generation paving the groundwork, and the next set of millennials having the most educated group of women in history, it shall not come as a surprise that one out of every three organizations will have women at leadership positions by 2025. It is also heartening to see how start-ups in India are leading the way when it comes to limiting the gender gap at leadership positions.
Arguably, womens’ participation in power positions and decision making is not only essential for ensuring their rights and equality but also for overall improvement of corporate cultural hygiene factor. Where women have participated actively in diverse spheres of life and social issues, they have been able to work towards eliminating gender discrimination. Today is just a start of narrowing down the gap, what shall be witnessed in the years to come will mark an unprecedented change in the way leadership was ever seen. From love or career to love and career, the women of the millennial have come a long way.
Written by: Prof. Avirupa Bhaduri Faculty. Media & Communication ISB&M, Kolkata