As Hillary Clinton once said, “Women are the largest untapped reservoir of talent in the world“. True as this is, it gets me thinking, why? Why are our minds enclosed? Why are we offered limited options? Why do we find just a handful women in important positions? Even in networking sessions and conclaves that I attend, why are there just a few women thoughts leaders and experts?
There is no rule of thumb that’ll make a leader out of you. While there may be no right or wrong way to lead, there still are stereotypes that define the person who would rule. It is a sad hard-hitting truth that we have to rely on reservations to ensure female participation.
“I want every little girl who’s told she’s bossy, to be told instead she has leadership skills.” said Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook COO. I’ve traveled to so many places and everywhere I find people talking about change, about development and the entire gamut. Do you think change really matters? Until we are aware of the societal influence on our behavior or at least made aware of, change might as well be non-existent. As a woman and a mother, it concerns me that women are still confined within the four walls of the kitchen waiting for their children and husbands to come home, cook for them, clean for them and take care of them. The sad reality is that advertisements depict people’s stand against discrimination. I truly wonder if the ad makers are just leveraging this raging topic or truly stand by what they show!
However, despite stereotypes, women are born leaders and history is witness to their prowess. Mind it, the concept of leadership is not inherently and merely masculine. Over the last few years, especially, we have seen how women have moved out of their cocoons and become entrepreneurs, working relentlessly on their dream projects while also creating employment opportunities for others. From my experience of having been a part of numerous startups, mentoring them, investing in some, here, in this article, I’d like to highlight strategies in order to encourage women to be leaders.
- Training programs may sound boring, but when done right can create a huge impact on productivity.A survey shows that men take more risks when compared to women even in certain fields where women expertise and knowledge is formidable. All this determines the environment we are part of. To increase women participation, there is an immediate need for concrete training sessions, with a focus on teaching them the importance of failing. For when you learn to accept failure, you rise like a phoenix from the ashes!
- I like seeing the trend of adopted reservations and gender quotas by numerous organizations including governments and companies across the world. However, the strategy also has its detractors and limitations.
- I believe in friendly employment reforms, with gender-neutral job descriptions and flexible parental policies, which can have a positive impact. As a side note, it is found that employment practices such as providing recommendations for job candidates can be more affected by biases.
- If we want our children of today not to fall prey to this gender discrimination, we need to consistently show them various role models, that are women. We all have role models in life and having one makes you open to looking for better opportunities and thus redefine your life.
To conclude, I want to quote Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change you want to see in the world!” Lead by example because the empowerment I’ve spoken here should rise from within. And that’s what I truly mean when I say, take a step forward.