Leadership is a positive quality that should always be endorsed, no matter the gender. Still so often, many like to think of a leading man as sympathetic, while we’re labeling a woman with the same talent as arrogant.
This way of thinking, among other reasons, systematically causes women to think less of themselves. A real pity, because by believing in yourself and knowing you’re worthy in reaching your goals, you reinforce the belief others have in you.
Women often seem to take another business approach than their male counterparts. A difference we could explain biologically? It certainly isn’t. We’re not treating people equally and we’re challenged by cultural expectations.
In my opinion, this is perfectly illustrated with a case study Columbia Business School spread among a group of their students. Half of them got to read a case study about the successful entrepreneur Heidi Roizen. The other half was shown the exact same document, except for one little detail: instead of ‘Heidi’, the study was about ‘Howard’.
To the students, both the male and female entrepreneur came across as equally competent. There was a striking difference, however: they thought Howard seemed friendly, but perceived Heidi as being harsh and cold.
Women are often afraid they won’t fulfill certain expectations. As a result, they doubt themselves even more. Not because they ‘just have a higher tendency to be concerned about what others think of them’. This study shows that women are judged more severely. It’s not just in our heads.
Don’t be deterred by a world ruled by men. It’s a cliché but believe in yourself and keep doing your thing. You’re worthy of being ambitious in all aspects of life. Don’t let yourself become stressed out by trying to combine it all. Surround yourself with people supporting you - both at home and in the office. Learn how to delegate and how to express your appreciation for those helping you.
BE OPEN MINDED AND ORGANISE YOUR OWN SCHEDULE
As a woman, I often get the question: “How do you combine it all?” This is a question male entrepreneurs get to hear way less. Men seem to flawlessly combine a busy job with family and friends, while many people still believe it’s impossible women can do the same.
People look horrified when I tell them that one day, I also would like to have a family and children. It doesn’t seem possible to do so if I’m (also) choosing for my career. But why shouldn’t that be possible? I think the idea is outdated that women will perform less in any field, just because she’s pursuing her dreams to also have a family.
We’re often lacking a structure that makes it possible for women to reach their full potential. I believe in creating a structure with room for a healthy work-life balance in which you have the freedom to organise your own working schedule. For instance, as an employee in a classic 9 to 5 environment, it’s still hard to deal with picking up your kids from school or a sick child - tasks mothers often are expected to fulfill, in contrary to their spouses. If you would have the freedom to create a work environment where motherhood can be combined with a career, I feel everything can work out fine, without becoming stressed out about how to do it all.
You can have both a family and a career - and no one should be surprised if you do.