why are there fewer women in leadership

Why are there fewer women in leadership positions?

With equality and diversity firmly in focus this year, many workplaces are now questioning the reasons behind why there are statistically fewer women in leadership positions compared to their male counterparts.

Perhaps you’ve pondered this yourself from time to time. Maybe an experience in your workplace caught you off guard and made you question this phenomena. Either way, today we’re going to lift the veil on this mystery and give you actionable advice to help improve the statistic.


Perceptions of women

Ever heard phrases bandied around that compare the strength and resolve of a man to a woman? Often with women taking the weaker roles, it is an unfair depiction that women are less equipped to handle highly stressful situations.

Research from the University of Buffalo, shared by Forbes, explains that “When people think of a strong leader, many people subconsciously picture a man because of persistent stereotypes of men as commanding and goal-focused. Meanwhile, because they’re seen as more caring and people-focused, women have always faced a disadvantage—or outright discrimination—as leaders.”

This is one of the many biases that women are faced with in the workplace, and it’s actually one that we aim to combat in our women in leadership program, Lead Boldly.


The broken rung

While it can be more common to see women in lower management roles across industries, it’s the top of the ladder where women seem to drop off statistically. When reviewing data from Women in S&P company listings as well as the ASX, it is clear to see the minute role that women play in high levels of management across multinational organisations. But why is this? Well, according to various research including from the Pew Research Center and McKinsey, women simply aren’t being offered as many opportunities in middle management as their male coworkers. This leads to a funnel effect where many women begin their careers, well educated and often with more PhD’s than their counterparts, yet end up towards the end of their careers often in the same or similar job role level.


Is this the standard we’re willing to accept?

The question in this situation becomes this: is this the standard we’re willing to accept? Is this the future of the workplace that you desire for your sisters, your daughters and your nieces? For us at Pragmatic Thinking and friends of PT, we know that this simply isn’t what we want to see.

Instead, we want to see women in leadership being embraced across all sectors from mining and construction through to finance and fintech. We know that women have the capability, the strength and the skills to climb the ladder and revolutionise our workplaces.

In fact, female CEOs in both traditional multinationals and startups are often cited as being able to increase revenue by a substantial amount. Resulting in greater prosperity and market share. If that isn’t a good enough reason to invest in the future female leaders within your organisation, we don’t know what is.

How do we improve the number of female leaders?

If you’re passionate about this topic (which we’d guess you are) we’d say that you want to see the number of female leaders increase in the next 10+ years. With this in mind, let’s take a look at the practical action steps you can take to make this dream a reality.


Step 1: Review Your Management Promotion Structure

Do you have a process for how individuals are promoted within your organisation? Whether cross-functionally or vertically, take a look at what you can do to avoid having the women in your workplace slip through the cracks. Consider what efforts you can make to offer equal opportunity in training and you’re likely to see an increase in quality candidates for middle and senior management positions.


Step 2: Provide Exceptional Coaching

Coaching is one of the strongest methods for improving outcomes and changing behaviour within your team. If there’s a bright prospect who needs a bit of coaching, reach out and follow a clear coaching formula to ensure that you provide the best value possible. You may even choose to offer external coaching opportunities and a library of inspiring novels and online short courses to accelerate learning.


Step 3: Offer a Science-Based Women in Leadership Program

Many of the women in leadership programs currently on the market are either full of fluff with no basis in reality or are simply a general leadership course with a ‘for women’ sticker slapped on the front. That’s not what we want to see. Instead, to get the most bang for your buck, invest in a science-based women in leadership program that isn’t afraid to address the tricky subjects of psychology, inherent cognitive biases and the differences in the way male and female voices are interpreted in the brain. Our Lead Boldly program is backed by science and can be delivered virtually from our world-class PTV studios or from a face-to-face venue. We’ve run the program inside of the world’s largest organisations including Amazon AWS and Hastings Deering (CAT).


So, what are you waiting for? There’s never been a better time to change the future and accelerate the number of female leaders in your organisation. Enquire about the Lead Boldly program today.