Women in Leadership: Challenges & Solutions


Women in Leadership: Challenges & Solutions

According to 2019 global statistics, only 29% of senior positions were occupied by women and this is the highest statistic ever recorded in this category. 2019 also saw at least one woman occupying a senior management position in 87%* of businesses worldwide.

Though a part of these statistics is a bright spot, it is obvious that there is much to be done to encourage more women into leadership roles. One such way is by beginning to understand the challenges that they currently face in such roles. Women themselves can indeed be change leaders when they learn to empower themselves to overcome these challenges.

Given here are some major barriers that women face at workplaces. Also given are solutions that women can put in place to overcome these aforementioned barriers

Gender Differences

The problem of gender issues arises from rigid mindsets and beliefs. People with such rigid attitudes tend to believe that women are good for certain roles and men are excellent for certain positions.

Masculinisation of leadership roles is a key reason for gender differences. People with a biased mindset tend to believe that leadership roles are better performed by men as they inherently possess the qualities needed for the role. Such qualities include confidence, assertiveness, independence and competitiveness.

Solution: It needs to be realised and accepted that such biased mindsets are a result of deep-rooted beliefs, fostered through generations. More shocking is the fact that some people show such bias toward women unconsciously.

Both men and women are guilty of holding self-sabotaging beliefs. Though there is an urgent need to address the issue of bias, the solution, unfortunately, cannot produce immediate results. Some feasible solutions that can reduce the immediate impact of gender bias and make the workplace bias-free in the long run include:

  • Consistently Clear Communication – Women need to communicate their willingness to work in senior level positions. They need to demonstrate their ability for such positions by being proactive. Some examples include communicating their interest in a new project, demonstrating willingness to travel and putting forth career plans for the future, say a 5-year plan.

With consistent communication, the intention and the ability of women will be demonstrated, which can raise their chances of consideration and acceptance for senior positions.

  • Invest in Leadership Skill Building- It is important to be prepared for opportunities.

Choose a leadership program that offers coaching in both leadership and psychology. Such programs stress on imparting emotional intelligence as well as skills such as assertiveness, resourcefulness and perseverance.

  • Support Each Other- One of the best ways to counter female bias is to support each other at times of need. Stand strong together on values of excellence, innovation and fair treatment

Work Home Life Balance

Work-home balance is a challenge for both male and female employees but studies show that the imbalance tends to affect women more in the workplace.

The stress of child-rearing on women leads them to go for more flexible but lesser-paying positions, choose part-time work or even quit their jobs. Though there is an evident impact on men, the percentage of men opting for the above career choices is lower than that of women.

Solution: Women can aim for greater career success by employing the following strategies:

  • Change your Mindset – Seeking a work-life blend over work-life balance is a more practical solution for this problem. This does not mean that you need to always be in a working mode but bringing home to work and vice versa can be a healthy and practical way that helps you be more “present” in both these important areas.
  • Cope Better with Negative Emotions – Working mums are not new to feelings of guilt. Making that crucial decision at work means you will not be able to attend your daughter’s football match or your son’s parent-teacher’s meeting.

By being able to deal better with negative emotions, you can be more productive and experience greater fulfilment, which is one way to beat guilt. Also, be fully aware of your negative thoughts and counter them with positive ones before they silently creep into your minds and consume you.

Attending a coaching program in leadership and psychology can help as these courses are built around using hands-on techniques to counter self-sabotaging thinking at work and in life.

  • Speak Up– It is important to bring to the notice of the senior management the need for proper supportive measures for new mothers and parents.

Such measures can include more flexible schedules, access to psychological coaching programs for better work-life blend and more career advancement opportunities for women after marriage and motherhood.

Many women leaders fear that they could be ostracized for bringing up workplace issues facing women but it is only when you speak up that will you be heard. And chances are you will not be alone; there may be other women wanting, and waiting for, the same.

Chances of being heard are also high thanks to changing workplace norms and increasing corporate pressures.

General Lack of Access

This includes a lack of access to workplace facilities and avenues that are a given for men. Some typical examples include lack of access to funds, off-work social events and career advancement programs.

Access to such elements is crucial because they enable women to identify potential clients and strengthen existing client relationships. Off-work social events, for example, are one of the best avenues to locate mentors. Such events also enable women to come into contact with decision makers and build rapport with them.

Solution: Show willingness to be part of company activities and events. This will bust the myth that women do not like being part of off-work events. Be assertive and speak up in meetings, asking for more inclusive roles for women at workplaces.

Make it a point to participate in career advancement and leadership and psychology coaching programs offered at workplaces. Such programs train you to be more positive, more assertive and confident, and to create opportunities out of challenges. They also enable you to meet mentors and C-suite executives and build inspiring relationships with them.

In Conclusion

The above solutions can take time to show results but, the key here is perseverance. As women rise high with perseverance, they are not only creating history for themselves but also making it easier for other women to aim high and achieve their dreams.

Solutions can be swift when companies become part of the change and make their workplaces more flexible for deserving women.

The role of an effective leadership and psychology coaching program in making workplaces more open can never be underestimated. We can be your partners in creating a futuristic workplace that values its women and leads the way for the world.

We provide psychology training and leadership coaching programs for advancement of women and employees in general, at workplaces. Reach out to us at for more information.

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Center for American Progress, American Association for the Advancement of Science

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