Business, Business Development, Mentoring, Personal Selling

Breaking the Glass Ceiling: How to Overcome Gender Stereotypes in Business

The glass ceiling refers to a barrier, both social and business-related and both conscious and unconscious, that denies women equal pay for the same work as men- and keeps them from being promoted into higher management positions. In a 2022 study, women’s median earnings were only 83 percent of men’s, and less than 9 percent of Fortune 500 companies had women in CEO positions.  As a result, many women have chosen to leave the corporate environment and become entrepreneurs.

While much still needs to be done on a greater level, as females we can champion our own causes, stand in our own power and refuse to be seen as victims of the glass ceiling and work together to break through the glass ceiling and overcome other stereotypes in business.

What is the glass ceiling stereotype?

The glass ceiling stereotype is that business should be a man’s world,  and that men are better than women in leadership and management positions. Since women traditionally take time off work for maternity leave and child care, there is a patriarchal mindset that women are not as dedicated as men and are then better suited in roles of caregiver, mother and/or spouse.

The reality is, of course, far from that. In fact, a Harvard study of 22,000 businesses shows that when a company has 30% of their c-suite positions held by women, the company is 15% more profitable than those with an all-male leadership team.

We all need to become more aware the biases around us and take steps to overcome them, so we can move more women into leadership positions and make our companies stronger. When I started my career I was one of the first women in my public accounting firm and I accepted the challenge that I might need to work harder (do whatever it took) to advance my career.

What can we do about gender bias at a personal level?

While I do believe that every company needs to take steps to consistently improve their hiring practices and inclusive environments, I also believe that the change must begin at a personal level.

Think about your own beliefs:

  • Do you have an internal bias about women and their role in leadership?
  • Do you look for ways to build your professional and social skills?
  • Do you see yourself as a strong, capable and charismatic female leader?

A big step for each of us is to adjust our own mindsets and internalize our roles as strong female leaders. Just like entrepreneurs marketing their business, if they don’t have full confidence in the products and services they deliver, no one else will either. Our leadership mindset is like that too. You must own your leadership abilities and consistently work to develop them further to become a better leader. This way our behaviors, skills and abilities will be in alignment with our advancement goals.

Why networking can help you break the glass ceiling.

I am a very big believer in the power of association. Throughout my career, people in my network have brought forward advancement opportunities for me personally, as well as for my business. Getting past transactional based relationships and developing more meaningful ones is the key for opening up more opportunities like this for you too. This is why consciously expanding your network is so important and must become part of your business routine, if you want to break through the glass ceiling. Really big goals simply can’t be accomplished alone.

Consider your relationships inside and outside of your office or business.

  • Do you actively support other women in your business community? If not, how could you build that kind of support network?
  • Do you have successful female mentors you can turn to for guidance? If not, where could you start developing these relationships?
  • Is there someone you can contact to discuss opportunities to share your knowledge and perspectives in your area of expertise? Putting yourself forward as an expert and a powerful leader will also give other people the opportunity to see you in that light.
  • Is there a female leader you can celebrate in your network? Helping another woman to become more visible will help to breakdown the gender stereotypes.
  • Is there a woman you can mentor up through the ranks in your office or business? Making a pathway for others to rise, not only highlights your leadership and development skills, but also helps to bring down the glass ceiling, as the women you mentor become known for their abilities.

The more we take the initiative to develop our leadership capabilities, step forward with confidence in our roles, and do everything we can to support and celebrate the female leaders around us, the easier it will be to break through the remaining glass ceilings of gender stereotypes in business.

Great mentors help you grow your skills as a leader, give you new perspectives to improve your mindset, and help you increase your network to expand your opportunities. If you would enjoy working with a mentor who will help you define your vision, boost your confidence and help you advance your leadership skills, please apply for my Master Mentor Program today.



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