By Nicole McMackin
Often I am interviewed and asked about successful women in the workplace and my views on being one of the few to break the glass ceiling in the technology sector. My response has always been that I never saw a glass ceiling, so I did not provide myself an excuse not to break through it.
But various articles and statistics about women in leadership roles in the United States do prove that there is a disparity of women leaders in the workplace. Currently, The Fortune 500 is led by only 25 female CEOs. In a recent study conducted by Pew Research Center, 34 percent of respondents surveyed believe that male executives are better than women executives at assuming risk.
Moreover, when asked about specific industries women could support, a significant portion felt that men would do a better job leading technology, finance, and oil and gas companies, whereas women would be strongest at running retail and food companies.
Although that survey bleeds traditional stereotyping of women, you still need to ask yourself: “Why aren’t more women promoted into the CEO position, but rather held back?” Historically, it seems that women do not have the consistent high-ranking executive sponsorship who campaign for their advancement. Why is this?
As a gender, women are more than half the population and therefore leaping at the opportunity to prove themselves in the workplace. Often, they are out working men to earn 75 cents to every dollar their male counterparts earn for the same job.
Although women can keep up with the rigorous pace and workload at the office, maybe they can’t keep up with the social politics of the perceived “Good Old Boys Club.” Because of a lack of women in leadership roles, and the desire for career progression, women’s perceived need of survival overtakes their personality or natural disposition to be a leader.
Typically in these scenarios, women will lose their strengths in an attempt to over compensate for not being equal or the same to men. Throughout my career I have heard more commentary about a woman’s disposition in a meeting or board room than I ever heard of a man’s.
Women are considered harsh or manlike if they speak up to their peers, and are considered weak and a follower if they don’t. Women are left in a quandary. They are discussed, judged and evaluated every time they open their mouths.
Recent studies show that a diversified executive team will produce up to 34 percent more revenue to a corporation than an executive team filled with the same gender. Corporations and stockholders are beginning to recognize the need for more gender balance within companies. This is leading them to adapt policies to stray away from the perceived “Good Old Boys Club” and create a more neutral friendly working environment to all minorities.
With the backing of corporate stockholders, women now have an opportunity to take accountability and remain true to themselves while engaging with peer groups. Women will only succeed if they demonstrate the will and power to not act like a man, but leverage their natural gifts: honesty, teamwork, compassion and persuasion.
Nicole McMackin is president of Irvine Technology Corp., www.irvinetechcorp.com, a firm that specializes in information technology solutions and staffing. She joined the company more than 10 years ago, initially serving as Vice President of Sales. McMackin has an established career in sales and management with a strong emphasis of account ownership within Fortune 300 organizations.