We discuss the importance of women empowerment and how it affects leadership to come.

In patriarchal societies, women need to, and do, empower other women in the workplace. And it’s a good thing that women are making the empowerment of other women a priority; we discuss the specifics of the importance of women empowerment and current data and how that translates in a professional environment.

It’s beneficial to have professional leadership for mentoring and guidance, or even just commiserate about a shared experience. But if you’re looking for someone who can share in your gender-specific concerns, this isn’t too easy to come by, with women only holding 14% of executive-level roles in the software industry in 2017.

How can we fix this? They’re already on it- women who get in the door, prop it open for the next. 

Data shows that as women rise, they bring others with them. The World Economic Forum and LinkedIn data supported direct correlations in the number of women in leadership at a company and the ensuing gender diversity found further down the chain of command.

For example, between 2007 and 2017, the percent of women in top roles in the software industry increased from 10% to 14%. The gender diversity at the associate-level concurrently rose over the same ten-year period from 23% to 30%. In a conversation with HR Technologist, Liz Armbruester, SVP of global compliance for a software company, offered perspective on the hiring trend: “I’ve noticed that most (but not all) women leaders are conscientious of the balance between women and men in their hiring patterns and will seek diverse candidates to broaden their teams.” (More on women’s hiring tendencies)

This sentiment of women looking out for one another holds true for many women, including actress Lauren Graham in her 2016 book, “. It’s not lost on me that two of the biggest opportunities I’ve had to break into the next level were given to me by successful women in positions of power… If I’m ever in that position and you ask me, ‘Who?’ I’ll do my best to say, ‘You’ too.”

Women: Bogged Down Doing Other Shit 

It’s no secret that women face social, cultural, and, in some cases, even legal barriers discouraging economic participation or upward mobility. By now, we’ve all heard the statistic that women earn only 70-90% of that of their male counterparts in most countries (UN Women, In Brief: Economic Empowerment of Women), but that’s still only considering the women that are getting compensated for their labor.

The International Labor Organization reported that,

In both high and lower income countries… on average, women carry out at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men,” while also “working longer hours per day when both paid work and unpaid work are taken into consideration” leading to, “employed women hav(ing) longer working days on average than employed men. Even when women are employed, they still carry out the larger share of unpaid household and care work. As a consequence, women are more likely than men to work short hours, whether voluntarily or against their choice” (see: “time-related underemployment”. More stats from the International Labour Organization Women at Work. Trends 2016 – Executive summary)

While overburdened with uncompensated responsibilities and managerial roles (aka “the mental load”), it can help to have someone who understands your position a bit more uniquely. The general mental health benefits of having a strong social support system are well-established, and it can be difficult to find that small sense of community when you’re the only one woman in your department.

It’s important to commiserate, especially when the offenses are palpably clear to one side of POV in a male-dominated environment, and it’s also important to advocate for one another, provide or share opportunities and resources, and simply to impart knowledge or crucial pieces of advice.

Why Women Need Women- Offering A Push Or Reinforcing Confidence

Another reason we need women all over the hierarchy, is because of a confidence problem. Women underestimate their abilities and performance and are 16% less likely than men to apply for a job after viewing it, feeling that they need to match up with 100% of a positing’s criteria. Men typically overestimate the same qualities and apply when they only meet 60% of the posting criteria. However, women were found to be 16% more likely to get an offer when they did submit an application. (Harvard Business Review Gender Insights Report).  So although they are applying at a lower rate and screening themselves out of the candidate pool, women do stand a slightly better chance at getting hired. Imagine how many roles would be filled if women were encouraged and supported and stopped screening themselves out!

One nonpartisan nonprofit is asking that same question: She Should Run is an organization set on inspiring women to consider political leadership, because “We know that when women run for office they win at the same rates as men. Yet women are not encouraged and recruited at the same rate as men.” Also providing “thoughtful guidance and support for women considering a future run for office”. 

So, women out there: be confident, apply to that job even if you’re not 100% qualified, and keep encouraging one another. Seek out a community of women who can cheer you on and be in your corner. The importance of women empowerment is strong, and we all need it.

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