Why Women in Leadership Roles Deserve a Dedicated Look
Designated officially as “Women’s History Month,” March gives us all an opportunity to set aside some time, honoring women’s achievements in American history. While giving a nod to how far women have come, it’s also a good time to acknowledge where we currently stand with women in the workplace and how far we still need to go.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we’d like to take this opportunity to look back at women’s achievements in the workplace while also stressing the importance of women in leadership roles.
A Look Back at Women’s Achievements in the Workplace
Early in the 20th century, women did not typically work outside of the home. At that time, only 20 percent of women were reported as “gainful workers,” according to the U.S. Census Bureau, and those that did work were primarily unmarried with no children.
Fast forward to 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, securing women’s right to vote, and then to 1974, when women gained the right to apply for credit without a co-signer, typically their husband. With these legal opportunities and increasing opportunities to secure higher education, women’s participation continued to rise in the workplace. However, women were still primarily viewed as secondary wage-earners, during this era.
In the early 1990s, 74 percent of women between the ages of 25 through 54 participated in the labor force, compared to 93 percent of men of the same age. Additionally, women began to join traditionally-male professions, such as lawyers, doctors, business managers, and professors. According to the Brookings Institute, because of joining these higher-paid professions, the earnings gap between males and females closed significantly.
However, we’ve seemed to stall on closing this earnings gap any further, as it has remained stable over the last 15 years in the U.S., according to Pew Research Center. Today, women earn 84 percent of what men earn, meaning that women would have to work an additional 42 days to equalize pay between the genders.
And as women’s careers were hurt more by the global pandemic than men’s, we’ve taken a step backward in both pay gaps and representation. According to the World Economic Forum, COVID has caused gender parity to be set back an additional generation, increasing the closing of the current wage gap from 99.5 years to 135.6 years.
The Benefits of Having Women in Leadership Roles
As we honor women’s history this month, let’s take a look at some significant benefits of having women in leadership roles.
According to Harvard Business Review, organizations with women in senior leadership positions are more profitable, provide better customer experiences, and are more socially responsible. Additionally, McKinsey and Leanin.org found that women are better than men at providing employees with emotional support (31 percent vs. 19 percent), are better at helping employees navigate work-life challenges (29 percent vs. 24 percent), and spend more time contributing to diversity and inclusion efforts (11 percent vs. 7 percent).
And the benefits don’t stop there. Women are more effective as leaders, with that gap widening throughout the pandemic, possibly indicating “that women tend to perform better in a crisis,” according to leadership experts.
To continue our march forward to gender parity in the workplace, businesses can examine their recruitment methods, being sure to attract and retain top female talent. Also, provide leadership training and mentorship for employees, encouraging them to take the reigns of their careers while promoting women within your organization. Finally, broaden your leadership mentality, taking women’s strengths into consideration. As we continue to experience shifts in our work models, it’s time for leadership shifts as well.