Slowly but surely, the rise of women in positions of authority is happening. No longer unthinkable is the idea that a woman could become the highest position in governments and corporations, and the media has reaped many an article and news piece because of this trend. To put things in perspective, it has only been a little over a hundred years since the idea of women voting and holding office was made into a reality.
Things are still far from even. At the latest count, a measly 4.2 percent of Fortune 1000 companies are headed by female CEOs. In our supposedly progressive country, women still receive significantly less pay than men for the same jobs.
The title must bother some of the readers, as it seems to be an anti-woman statement. Not in the slightest, I say. I’m a woman, and this idea that women leaders should be considered as some kind of pleasant oddity is in itself a harmful thing, an obstacle in the way of true equality in the workplace and in society. Let me explain.
She Got the Job Because She is a Woman
This is one of the most damaging preconceptions that people could have with a female person in authority, that she got where she is by virtue of her gender. This severely belittles her actual ability, and is just as bad as choosing a man for the part because of masculine stereotypes that they are dominant, thus more suited to lead (neuroscience might have provided evidence for the opposite).
In an ideal world, someone is promoted to a position of authority because of their qualifications, experience, and innate abilities, and this should have nothing to do with their genital configuration. When people don’t even regard the sex of the person, and look instead at his or her skills and credentials, humanity would have taken a huge step in true gender equality.
Just to Make a Statement
Let’s say a company’s board, in an attempt to sanitize their image with the public and wanting their reputation to be an equal opportunity, woman-friendly enterprise, elect a woman into the CEO position. Sure, they get a lot of press time and pats on the back, but again, this utterly demeans a woman’s capability to reach the top without having a bunch of men allow her for PR reasons.
There is value in presenting symbols that encourage and motivate other women to aim higher and realize their true value, but again, this is still far from the ideal we are trying to reach. This doesn’t make women stronger in any way, and might even reinforce the self-entitlement issues that our older, more misogynistic cultures have ingrained into some women (particularly those who have inherited power and prestige).
It Is Better if they Earn It
As mentioned above, it won’t make women any more determined and empowered to achieve if it is just given to them, and it won’t build their resilience and character. Women have to catch up; the centuries of us being coddled and not given that many opportunities at leadership (yes, I know there are powerful women in history, but do a headcount and you’ll see what I mean) did not prepare us well for the equality that is just around the corner.
The best thing society (men and women both) can do is not to make it any harder than it is. Letting go of the biases, ceasing the preferential or discriminatory treatment, and allowing the women to come into her own power is the right thing to do.
Someday, it won’t even be remotely noteworthy that a woman came into power, and that’s totally alright with me.
About the Author
Stacey Thompson is a professional writer, marketer, entrepreneur, and a lover of weird little animals. She is based in San Diego, California. She is a lady entrepreneur, a distinction that she hopes will eventually become a non-factor. Stacey is based in San Diego, California, and is at the planning stage of hatching yet another business venture this coming year, with a bit of financial help from Dealstruck.