As International Women’s Day is celebrated on Saturday, consider:
While 70% of 4,100 professionals surveyed in 32 countries by Accenture say that the number of women in leadership roles will increase by 2020, there are still problems in female advancement in the workplace.
Do you think women are getting ahead? Your answer may depend on where you work, your profession or your race. Because even thought leaders can't seem to agree on what women should -- or should not -- be doing in order to move into leadership roles.
For example, Dr. Lois P. Frankel wrote in her book that women undermine themselves in dozens of unconscious ways, such as giving limp handshakes, ragging on other women or dithering about decisions.
She believes the reason that women continue to make some of the same mistakes (such as avoiding negotiating) is because of socialization.
“Women are bombarded with messages from the time they are infants about how they are supposed to act, look, and be. These messages are reinforced through the media, religious institutions, Madison Avenue and so forth,” Frankel says. “When they venture outside of these narrowly defined boundaries they’re called names that suggest they are less than feminine – even when it’s not at all true.”
She says that women are put “between a rock and a hard place” because they are forced to make a choice “of whether to weather the name-calling and maintain their self-respect or revert to socially acceptable stereotypes and be liked.”
While Frankel believes women have broken through the glass ceiling, she contends they are stuck in the “glass treehouse.”
“The ‘glass treehouse’ is the most senior level of executive management such as CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, etc. and boards of directors,” Frankel says. “This is where decisions are made and where the real power lies.”
Frankel says that while women seeking advancement know they may have to deal with sex discrimination and other biases, the “one sticking point” for women continues to be “the many roles they play at home and at work.”
“Except for women of privilege and power who have unlimited resources to get the help they need at home, most women struggle with the juggle of high power/high profile jobs and the responsibilities that are expected at home,” she says. “These responsibilities can include caring for spouses, children, and aging parents and more household responsibilities than their male counterparts.”
Rosa Brooks, a Georgetown University law professor, says the idea that women should “lean in” as advocated by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg is ruining life for other women.
“Why? Because unlike most men, women — particularly women with children — are still expected to work that 'second shift' at home. Men today do more housework and childcare than men in their fathers’ generation, but women today still do far more housework and childcare than men,” Brooks writes in Foreign Policy.
Frankel says that women are often forced to make difficult choices between “upward mobility and living their personal values."
“Our country really needs to do a better job of providing support to women so that they don’t have to burn the candle at both ends. When a talented woman opts out everyone loses,” Frankel says.
Frankel says she’s updated her "Nice Girls Don't Get the Corner Office," to include feedback she received from other women, and says she believes the most important addition is the discussion of the boundaries and rules of the workplace playing field and how they “impact women of color.”
“The playing field is the widest for white men, making it virtually impossible for them to go out of bounds short of egregious mistakes,” she says. “The boundaries then come in for white women and are most narrow for women of color, making it easy for them unknowingly go out of bounds.”
In Frankel’s book, she lists several ways that women undermine themselves on the job, such as :
"The main thing I want people to know is that my book doesn’t suggest that women be mean and nasty or that they should imitate male behavior. When I talk about ‘nice girl,’ I am referring to behaving like that nice little girl you were taught to be in childhood and not adding adult woman behaviors,” Frankel says. “Nice is necessary for success, it’s simply not sufficient.”
Do you believe women hold themselves back or they just need to "lean in"?