As a young woman with aspirations to advance in the corporate world and leave a lasting impact on the realm of leadership, I am well-acquainted with the distinct hurdles that we encounter on this path. While there have been notable advancements in recent years, gender disparities persist, and young women frequently grapple with the complexities of charting a course towards success. This article delves into the obstacles confronted by young women in leadership positions and offers insights into how our society can foster a more inclusive and supportive environment.
Breaking stereotypes and gender bias
Inclusivity/Gender Diversity in leadership is not just a buzzword; it is a crucial component of success in today's globalised and interconnected world. Women in general are often seen as less competent, less ambitious, or less deserving of leadership positions compared to their male counterparts. However, for a young woman, the scenario is worse which limits their skills, knowledge, perspectives and experiences brought to the table. Breaking these stereotypes and gender bias should be a collective effort that requires action at both individual and societal levels.
Building confidence and assertiveness in leadership
A notable challenge encountered by young women in leadership roles is the struggle to strike a balance between confidence and assertiveness. Paradoxically, when they exhibit confidence and assertiveness, they are sometimes labelled as "bossy" or "aggressive." This creates a delicate equilibrium between self-assuredness and maintaining likability, a balance that carries different expectations compared to their male counterparts. To overcome this challenge, young women should prioritize building their self-esteem, establishing clear objectives, celebrating their accomplishments, surmounting the obstacles that impede their progress, and ensuring that their voices resonate in leadership positions.
Imposter syndrome, a psychological phenomenon, plagues many, particularly young women in leadership roles. They often impose unrealistic standards on themselves, fearing that minor mistakes will expose their supposed incompetence. This leads to downplaying their achievements, attributing success to luck rather than skill and effort. To combat this, celebrating even small accomplishments and maintaining a record of achievements can serve as a tangible reminder of their capabilities.
Comparing oneself constantly to others can also foster feelings of inferiority. Recognizing that others grapple with self-doubt can mitigate isolation and help in distancing from negative thought patterns. Building a support network of mentors, peers, friends, and family is crucial for providing encouragement, reassurance, and perspective during moments of self-doubt.
Absence of visible role models
In recent times, the discourse around women in leadership roles has gained momentum, celebrating their achievements and breaking barriers. However, in mass media, we do not see such role models being revealed. Behind the spotlight, countless young women are crafting their leadership journeys, starting from scratch and surmounting hurdles to achieve success. These stories are a testament to hard work, resilience, and the pursuit of excellence. These young women hail from diverse backgrounds and have overcome financial constraints, societal expectations, and personal setbacks to rise to leadership positions. Their narratives are a source of inspiration that showcases the immense potential of talent, ambition, and dedication.
Unavailability of proper leadership development programs
The absence of leadership development programs hinders young women from fully honing their leadership skills, limiting their growth and preventing organizations from benefiting from diverse and capable leaders. This can lead to career stagnation, reduced motivation, and disengagement. Furthermore, individuals often get promoted to management roles without essential leadership training, resulting in difficulties in communication, delegation, and motivation. This lack of training may foster micromanagement tendencies, hindering creativity, autonomy, and trust within teams.
Despite significant challenges, young women in leadership roles can overcome them. This involves recognising diversity's value, cultivating confidence, challenging gender biases, improving communication, balancing work and life, seeking mentorship, celebrating success stories, and accessing resources. Supporting and empowering young women is a collective responsibility that promotes equal opportunities, ultimately creating a more inclusive and diverse leadership landscape.