Why are we still running mentoring programs for women? We’ve just celebrated 100 years of International Women’s Day. It’s over a century since woman began to gain the right to vote. Here in Australia we have a female prime minister and three of our seven states and territories are led by women, despite low numbers of women in politics. So why do women still need “special” treatment?
Women leaders in politics demonstrate very publicly that they can do as well (and as badly) as men. Yet the number of women in boardrooms, as CEOs and C suite roles is miniscule.
In many occupations women show themselves equal to the tasks traditionally the preserve of men. Some occupations, such as policing, have changed from reliance on the assumed advantage of physical strength. Women’s contributions have made a significant impact and societies are better for it.
Yet, while women are the majority in many industries and professions such as banking and finance, teaching and nursing, very few of them rise to senior roles. In fact, the only places where Australian women outnumber men in charge is in small business start-ups and as managers in micro businesses (employing 1-4 people). Why?
Highly skilled women opt out of large organizations, their talents lost because they cannot fulfill their career ambitions. So they start their own business instead. They create their own culture with flexible work arrangements around their childcare. They find or build their own support networks, mentoring and mastermind groups. Many succeed and with them the enterprises they lead.
When men and women work well together, teams operate better. Women bring communication skills, emotional intelligence and performance management skills to leadership roles. Large organizations cannot afford to forgo the abilities of women. That is why mentoring programs are still needed for women. Support networks, mastermind groups and mentoring develop women. Culture, flexible work arrangements and childcare support keep them.