As a young woman, it’s empowering and inspirational to see other women in powerful positions. Yes, there is still a glass ceiling (which we are persistent on breaking), but women have come a long way from the days of not having the right to vote. Many countries still revoke women’s basics rights. Not to say America is perfect, however there are more opportunities for us now than there have ever been before. And if the opportunity doesn’t exist, make your own!
And yet, even with the influx of prosperous female entrepreneurs, there still exists a stigma that women are moody, gossipy, and too personal on levels that go beyond employee and employer. A British study surveyed about 3000 men and women, with 63% of women and 73% of men agreeing that men make better bosses.
So the questions are how do we find female mentors and how do we learn to respect female bosses? If there are more male bosses than female, creating a bond with a female mentor is like a diamond in the rough. Irene Dorner, CEO of HSBC USA, stated, “I suspect we were simply not very good role models. And there aren’t enough of us to be visible so that people can work out how to do what we did.”
As a young woman, I often struggle to find mentors and confide in other experienced women. Either I feel intimidated or my bosses are too busy competing with me when instead they should be lifting me up. For example, one of my current bosses isn’t receptive to me wanting to advance in the company when it’s visible that I have the skills and knowledge to do so; yet she is enthusiastic about discussing hair products/her hair length vs. mine (or other trivial topics). Like the British study mentioned, women can be backstabbing, afraid that there’s only room for one woman at the top. We’re so busy trying to be the best (which isn’t a bad thing) that we neglect to help our colleagues.
“We’re so busy trying to be the best (which isn’t a bad thing) that we neglect to help our colleagues.”
On the other hand, I’ve experienced positivity from other successful women in my life, such as my high school psychology teacher. I was in her class for two years throughout my high school career and I grew to feel comfortable asking her personal questions and things related to my future (i.e. college, life, relationships). At the time she had a bachelor’s degree and was in the process of getting her master’s, as well as having other jobs on the side. Whether she knew it or not, she taught me the importance of hard work and independence.
Eventually I want to be my own boss and nurture a team full of young adults. Sure, I could read a million books on entrepreneurship but that doesn’t compare to real life lessons from seasoned individuals in the business. So, this isn’t to say that I don’t like powerful women, but those powerful women shouldn’t forget that not too long ago, they were in my position. A young women full of potential, a hint of naiveté, and the determination and ambition to create a solid future for herself.