Gender diversity in the workplace: undeniably, it’s something society needs, and yet there are few female executives. The nation’s top Fortune 500 companies do have some female heads of business, but the field is still male-dominated. In the beginning of the 20th century, women fought for the right to vote. Today’s woman is fighting to be valued in the job market. She wants equal pay, equal power, and she wants to end discrimination.
According to the Catalyst Organization, “Women currently hold 22 (4.4 percent) of CEO positions at S&P 500 companies.” (This data is from 2014.) Although 4.4 percent is relatively low, 2014 was a good year in terms of females operating in high-ranking positions. In fact, it was one of the best, which proves that women aren’t reaching the same levels of business as men, despite their comparable education, training, and experience.
Fashion is one area where women aren’t overlooked as much. Susan Itzkowitz has given more than 20 years of her life to Marc Fisher Footwear, and is currently president of the company. Her dedication to serving the brand eventually landed her the prestige of the position. Susan Itzkowitz shoes are now nearly synonymous with effective executive management.
Fashion isn’t the only business where a woman can be successful. With the right amount of innovation and cutthroat business acumen, women can be successful anywhere that isn’t biased by her gender; meaning, so long as sexism isn’t prevalent in the company, she’s got a shot. For example, IBM appointed its first female CEO, Ginni Rometty. Yahoo hired a top executive from Google to be its CEO, Marissa Mayer. There’s also Indra Nooyi, who’s been CEO of PepsiCo since 2006.
The rise of females in managerial positions has stalled, despite females delivering innovative concepts. Women are known for having a clear vision for business, and they’re known to put gender problems aside when it comes to doing the job. Unfortunately, they’re often victims of the double bind, which according to Huff Post means: “if they act too feminine, then they’re not taken seriously, but if they act too masculine then they’re universally hated by both the men and women who work under them.”
Because there’s still a gender bias, more female heads of business are necessary to prove women are just as capable of men. Moreover, it’s extremely important that girls have women in leadership positions to serve as role models for them. Role models like Susan Itzkowitz worked hard and applied innovation to an already established business. She even facilitated relationships between the company and Tommy Hilfiger.
The impacts of female leadership, specifically in the roles of CEO and President, is largely unstudied. Yes, the above mentioned companies are doing really well, just as well as they’d be doing with a man heading the company, and in many cases better than they’d done with a male CEO or president. Still, there’s little research to determine the implications, such as the company’s reputation and how it’s viewed by foreign partners and the community at large.
Hopefully, the natural progression is to balance the pay gap between the sexes. Then, hopefully female execs will stop being asked to act like men, and will be accepted for all they can offer without gender bias (for example, the family stereotype is still alive and well). Finally, it’s with great hope that women continue to take on positions of leadership in their companies.
J.B. is a freelance writer who like sharing tips and helping others to be successful.
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