Is it Still a Man’s World?

By: Susan Rothwell, Sr. Vice President of Sales, Valassis Digital
Published Wednesday, Oct 5, 2016



Is it Still a Man’s World?

Many times, I ponder the thought.  Well, business statistics would suggest it as well...

Where Do Women In Business Currently Stand?

Today, according to Pew Research, 26 women are serving as CEOs of Fortune 500 companies (5.2 percent). The number serving as CEOs of Fortune 1000 companies is virtually the same (5.4 percent). Oh, and if I did not give you enough, here are some more stats also from Pew Research to ponder:

Women are increasingly taking jobs in managerial positions:

  • In 2013, over half of managerial and professional occupations (52.2 percent) were held by women- up from 30.6 percent in 1968;
  • Even with these statistics, women continue to lag far behind men in senior management positions; and
  • According to a survey of top leaders from mid-market businesses throughout the U.S., only 22 percent of senior managers in 2014 were women.

Despite these figures, women have come a long way. But how do we leverage our value and differences to drive opportunities for leadership and success?

Our traditional strength tends to be our ability to nurture and develop others, which is a great foundation to rely on in a leadership role.  These attributes tend to come more naturally for us and can be a powerful tool in driving organizational success. However, we also have other traits- thought to be “male traits”- that when unleashed and allowed to flourish, are proven in study after study to be important for successful leadership.

Take Initiative and Drive Results.

Women are innately driven to take initiative in what we do. We adapt easily and are able to identify opportunities in a wide variety of situations. We have the mental structure to drive the results that are needed to define success. These are key traits needed to be a successful leader, regardless of being male or female. 

Of all the traits we have, there’s one I haven’t yet mentioned that I feel most passionate about, and it’s one of the most important- confidence. As women we’re hard on ourselves.  Since we tend to be self-critical, it can be very difficult for us to handle constructive criticism. This is often especially true when the criticism is coming from our male counterparts. 

To be able to receive this feedback in a positive fashion, we have to really believe in our abilities and feel we’ve earned and deserve our place within our organization. No second-guessing. We need to firmly know we are in a position of authority because we bring needed value to the table. Once we embrace this we become open to accepting feedback- both positive and critical. Why? Because it is only then that we can lead from a position of confidence and can openly accept what’s being said without becoming defensive. The beauty of taking this stance is that, ultimately, it will enable us to become even better and more empowered than ever before.

Don’t Wait- Move Forward.

As I look at our journey, I know it is both of our worlds. Women are needed in leadership to drive the diverse thinking that makes a business successful. So, make a plan. Decide on leadership. No excuses. Utilize your strengths and acknowledge your weakness so you can drive success for yourself and your organization.

Let’s face it- we have what it takes. Now go out there make it happen!