Many women go to work knowing they’re paid significantly less than their male counterparts. More men than women are high-level executives, sit on boards, and become politicians. Women feel they don’t get the same respect and blame glass ceilings or “Good ol’ boys” clubs. When half of our population is female, how can this still be so imbalanced and why does progress seem to be reverting?
Part of the battle originates with the media’s portrayal of women. The must-see film MISSrepresentation shares shocking statistics on how media companies, run primarily by men, spent decades telling stories from their perspective, portraying women as helpless sexual objects for men to overpower or rescue. The absence of female role models or multi-dimensional characters on tv or film kills any proof that women may aspire to be more. The film points out that history preserved primarily male perspectives and while not wrong, it remains extremely one-sided. Our country is far behind other countries’ empowerment of female leaders.
Two trends emerge in the workplace:
- Women feel power comes from being bitchy or sexy – This alienates both genders while painting women as emotional and unstable
- Women are our own worst enemy, as Sheryl Sandberg states in Lean In – Women constantly compete with both genders to earn a coveted top spot on the cutthroat career track. However, the few sporadic individual victories won’t launch women into more equivalent roles quickly. Additionally, women can be so catty and quick to criticize fellow women’s appearances or behavior in magazines or in person.
1) Stop fighting and join forces – The battle shouldn’t focus on knocking others from the top, it should be to earn positioning, building a balanced representation of both genders and working together. A more cohesive unit has more strength than a disputing unit.
2) Lift each other up – Rather than running to stay in front of the competition, turn around and give them a hand. You gain far more than you lose by training someone to be your replacement.
MISSrepresentation and its supporters chant, “If they can see it, they can be it.” Stop to think of what you want others to see and learn from you.