Although women have gained a lot of ground when it comes to gender equality in the last several decades, there’s still room to grow. Despite earning more college degrees than men for over 30 years, women continue to be underrepresented in corporate America. Learn how to rise through the ranks professionally with the following tips and tricks.
Women face unique challenges in the workplace, but rising to the top of the career ladder is possible
Although women have gained a lot of ground when it comes to gender equality in the last several decades, there’s still room to grow. Despite earning more college degrees than men for over 30 years, women continue to be underrepresented in corporate America. This happens for a variety of reasons, but the most powerful may be our own blindness to it – people are used to the status quo, so when they see signs of women holding positions of power, they count that as evidence of progress, without considering the overall inequity in corporate America.
So, the first step to shattering the glass ceiling is recognizing that it still exists and bringing that disparity to the attention of others. Unfortunately, the people most capable of changing the status quo are the least likely to recognize it – women in power dismiss it as a non-issue since they have not experienced it, and men either lack empathy for it or feel that acknowledging it would put them at a professional disadvantage.
You can’t solve a problem without understanding and acknowledging it. Rise through the ranks faster in your career, while empowering other women to do the same, by asserting yourself in a way that supports your professional growth.
The glass ceiling is a metaphor for the invisible stopping point many women reach in their careers which prevents them from rising to senior positions. It’s a form of discrimination that may not even be intentional; perhaps it’s the result of unconscious bias or a leftover symptom of corporate America’s male-dominated past. Most hiring managers wouldn’t admit, or possibly even recognize, that they are more likely to hire and promote male candidates, but a recent study by McKinsey & Company reveals that women are 18 percent less likely to be promoted than their male co-workers.
This failure to ascend is not the result of lack of skills, experience, or effort. Fewer women are hired into entry-level positions, and the gender gap widens with each subsequent step of employment through senior levels despite women and men remaining at their companies and requesting promotions at similar rates.
Change starts within. Shattering the glass ceiling in your own professional life will put you in a position to help other women do the same. Consider how you can integrate the following traits into your work life:
1. Assertiveness: This is perhaps the most important trait you can adopt – and the most difficult for some. Many women hesitate to interject or ask for more. Be a risk taker, gather your courage, and speak up in meetings, disagree and offer alternate suggestions when appropriate, make a strong case for promotions, negotiate raises with confidence, and ask your boss for additional responsibility or feedback on performance. Make yourself seen, heard, and understood, in no uncertain terms.
2. Proactiveness: You are your best advocate. No one else is as invested in your success or well-being as you are. Identify potential opportunities and volunteer or request that you be assigned to that position or project. Ask for a promotion if you feel you’ve been overlooked. Reach out to colleagues who can help you achieve your goals or improve your performance. Being resourceful and aware of potential can help you land in the right place at the right time.
3. Ambition: Sometimes your own insecurities end up creating the biggest roadblocks. Put yourself in a position where you can be confident about what you do – study hard, know your industry, and most importantly, aim high. Don’t allow yourself to get comfortable with mediocrity; have a remarkable goal in mind and work toward reaching it every single day. Also, trust that you can.
4. Confidence: It can seem like confidence is something you either have or don’t, but that’s not necessarily true. Confidence is cultivated, and often faked until it comes into existence. Start with the simple things like good posture, a strong handshake, a knack for introducing yourself, and be authentic. Practice by attending networking events or socializing slightly outside of your comfort zone until you find ease within yourself around others.
5. Pride: Women often underscore our accomplishments by being too humble; doing what is expected doesn’t feel worthy of praise. Forget about that. You need to boast about your accomplishments, tastefully. Build your portfolio, update your LinkedIn, become a professional expert on social media – your résumé will thank you.
The most important part of shattering the glass ceiling is believing that you can. While it’s true that you may have to push yourself a little harder, recognizing your talents and developing those accordingly can put you in a position where you can help empower other women to reach the same heights.