Women continue to face unique challenges in all aspects of their life and this is especially true in leadership.
Research continues to highlight ongoing gender bias in organizations and we know many of our systems still reflect gender inequality. Traditional leadership is still ‘masculinized,” meaning that behaviors and actions associated with leadership are traditionally associated with men and masculinity (think being assertive, direct, quickly decisive). Women face a tricky double-bind when trying to effectively lead in that they risk being seen as either too emotional and too passive or too aggressive and “bitchy.”
Add to that the tensions that come from navigating both personal and professional life, trying to find time for self-care, and sorting through social pressures of what women ‘should’ do and feel, and you get a myriad of challenges and stressors.
Is there an answer?
While there may not be a solution to this problem, the answer is for each of us to develop our capacity for brave leadership. We need to learn the skills of courage, because it takes courage to exist in our organizations. We need to develop our ability to stand firm, hold boundaries, and advocate for what’s right. We need to do this in our workplaces, in our homes, and in our communities… with our colleagues, our sons and daughters, and our friends and family. We need to find allies in men who will join us in wanting a better, more balanced work environment. There is work to be done, but we can make a difference.