Have you been working in the same position for a long time? Do you have to contend with a glass ceiling that is seemingly condemning you to the same routine year in year out? Well, you may just be a victim of gender stereotypes in the workplace. These are the stereotypes that will make your boss choose another candidate over you despite your credentials.
Stereotypes have caused interns who came the other day come and Lord it over you after a promotion. Such incidents can be very demoralizing and cause you to wonder why you even put in the extra work while burning the midnight oil. It means that if you do not change jobs or start your own business you will forever remain in that position.
So let us tackle some of these stereotypes in an effort to nip them in the bud and ensure that women are waving the flags of various organizations at a higher level.
- Mothers are not good leaders
Mothers are among the groups of people that are really suffering because of outdated stereotypes. When asked who is their preference between a man and a woman for a particular job many men will go for the man arguing that the woman will be distracted by her duties at home.
This is not true as many mothers have achieved so much and were still able to take care of their homes. There are presidents, scientists, technologists, journalists, farmers who make impressive alternative arrangements for their homes and kids every day and make it work. Women can multitask and we have help whenever we are not at home. That should not be a reason to deny us promotions.
- Too emotional
Last year, I attended a conference where women were advised to be carrying men along when making important decisions about business. This is because women were considered to be emotional and could make the wrong decisions for their company. The presence of the man was to also prevent the female executive from being exploited by the other party.
Women are quite capable of making their own decisions regarding their businesses. This is seen by the many women who are running their own companies with billions in profits.So let us not assume that women are too emotional to make logical decisions.
- Lack of business acumen
According to a recent study by consultancy firm YSC, it was discovered that despite many women reaching a very senior level with wide commercial experience, only 7% of women at executive level have responsibility for a profit-generating area of the business. The majority of women were left to be in the HR, legal or marketing functions.
The above comes from the stereotype that women do not have business acumen which is very wrong. Women do have the ability to see an income generating project and know where there is big money as well.
- Too weak
Granted, women are not as strong as men physically but this does not mean that they are unable to run businesses and fight it out in their chosen industry.
Take Tabitha Karanja of Keroche industries for instance. She started her business from scratch and had to fight a multinational company for her space in the industry. Not all women are weak and incapable of fighting for what they believe in.
The late Wangari Maathai of the Greenbelt movement was able to stop a government from putting up buildings at Uhuru Park and up to now, we enjoy the fruits of her efforts with our kids every weekend or during special occasions like Christmas. Women are not weak and can take on anybody in the business arena.
- Cultural stereotypes
You will be surprised but cultural stereotypes are still here with us. There are men who believe that men still belong to the kitchen. Some believe that a woman should not stand in front of people while others believe that a woman should only nurture children as men go out to earn and bring home the bacon.
We are in 2018 and these cultural sentiments have been overtaken by events. Women are now going to school and performing really well. It will be such a waste to keep such women at home. They need to also get to the highest point of the actualization as per the Maslow hierarchy of needs. In this case, the highest point of actualization may be becoming the next boss.
We can only overcome the stereotypes and unconscious bias by addressing our own judgments. We should also put in place procedures and practices mitigate any potential effects they may have.
On their part, women also have to change their mindsets, making their needs a priority instead of just being altruistic. This will help them be more influential while being able to maintain their energy and avoid burnout. Women in various industries should also be willing to take their hands of their juniors and mentor them in being better leaders.