A job is posted. A promotion become available. An opportunity opens up. Interested women might choose to wait instead of stepping forward. In contrast, men will apply to a job they aspire, no matter if they lack experience or have many other commitments on the go.
This is my lived experience. These are my observations. As people in my work and personal orbits have decided to move into leadership roles or apply for a promotion, I’ve seen the pattern I describe above time and again. While not every woman acts in the way I’ve described, it’s more common than many accept.
Women might think they need to get more experience, expertise or education. They may have the primary role in the home as a caregiver and feel they can’t find the time. Women may believe they’re not ready. And then women don’t apply. But good news! I’m beginning to see a change. More younger women seem to be ready to take the risk and put themselves forward.
Why might this be? Because of how women have been and are encouraged to see themselves by society and those in power. Gender roles are strongly engrained in our human communities. We are deeply socialized to believe, think and act in certain ways. The biases and assumptions I grew up with through the 60’s to 80’s don’t serve us. People everywhere want to freely express their identities, whether non-binary, woman, man, or LGBTQS2+.
All of us, and especially those who have power, can work to disrupt the pattern. I want women to value their worth and what they have to offer. I want every woman to know that she can put herself forward at any time and boldly state what she wants and aspires to. We need mentors and managers who clearly see the women in front of them and systematically help, encourage and support their professional growth and learning. Women, indicate your interest for the promotion, apply for the job, and say yes to the opportunity, even if you think you’re not ready. Most likely, you are ready and you have the skills and passion to learn the job.
Happy International Women’s Day!