An upset woman walks into a washroom. 10 minutes later she walks out, make up fixed, compliments lighting up her face and with 4 new friends.

That’s how you boss together.

Women sign up for mentoring sessions and don’t show up. They say that they had a business trip which was planned last minute. Women mentors back out last day, last minute. Women mentees don’t open up and don’t talk about what’s really going on. Mentors and mentees say that it’s tough to match calendars – so they could not meet after the first few times. Mentors say the mentee doesn’t do what they promised they would. Mentees say the mentor is too busy. No matter how big and effective a Thrive launch is, there are women who do this. No this isn’t meant to be “me venting”. This article is only to tell you that you aren’t the only ones who are doing it, and you are probably doing it for reasons that are difficult to talk about.

What stories do you tell yourself about you? What stories do others tell about you? Do you sometimes feel that if there is another woman in the room, the only way to shine is by putting her down? Or do you feel that you will be exposed by the other women in a room? Why do we forget, why oh why do we forget, that there are others in the room too? That competing against women doesn’t mean that you will be the best woman in the room! Why set your sights at that, when you can be the best at what you do, at what you are, rather than conforming to just what others think you might/ could be?

Socially shared insecurities of being a woman have become our reality.

Is there a gender bias – yes.

Are women outnumbered in the workplace – yes.

Is there a wage gap – yes.

Is there a glass ceiling – yes. But enough is written out there about all that.

And also, there are men out there, who aren’t intimidated by women at the workplace. There are men who will coach you through failures and successes and help you realise what amazing talent you have within you.

So how many times have you heard that a woman is another woman’s biggest enemy or that women just can’t get over their ‘petty’ differences when there is a high-pressure task to be achieved. Being a part of multiple women support communities, being in those vibrant global facebook communities where women generously help each other, I am convinced that there is a whole other experience and narrative that does not get as much press.

This article is to get you to take ownership of your success and understand that when women support women, there will be glory for all. Ok. That’s a little bit melodramatic. But isn’t that what we all choose?

  • We choose drama over simply asking a female friend for help, because we don’t want to jeopardize our relationship. What does that even mean?
  • We choose to believe we don’t have what it takes, because actually showing up might mean that you could fail and you would rather live in self- assumed exile. What if you didn’t fall, but flew?
  • We choose to make space for everybody except ourselves, but if you want to see tomorrow dawn brighter than today, then self-investment is non- negotiable.
  • We expect our women bosses to first earn our respect and demonstrate that they know what they are talking about, we give a ‘male’ boss the benefit of doubt.

It is us who have double standards for women being successful. 

Every time a woman walks in for an interview, you are also wondering if she’s married, if she has kids. What do you think of when a man walks in for that interview?

Let me hazard a guess here: You are probably thinking yes and saying no to all of this. 

There is plenty of evidence based on research on the psychology of leadership, that if leaders were selected on competence rather than confidence, humility rather than charisma, and integrity rather than narcissism, we would not just end up with more competent leaders, but also more women leaders.(3) And yet, that’s not the case.

So what can you do to tip the balance in your favour? You support other women!!! Mentor other women. When you get to the top, don’t kick off the ladder. Help others up. Through mentoring others you can show them which rungs are precarious, tell them which ones to hold onto strongly to and which ones to just jump over.

If this mentor is your mother, sister, niece, boss, best friend- it’s already a good start. What makes it great though is when that mentor is an objective third person. They tell you things as they are, not what you want to listen to.

Here’s something to think about-

  • We are in the midst of an uneven and stalled gender revolution. Year on year there seem to be more men at the workplace occupying pivotal positions, with women falling further behind. In 1980 not a single management occupation was majority women. By 2010, some occupations became female-dominated while others became male-dominated. Female managers were in fields that emphasised people skills, while men were in production. (1)
  • The stalled gender revolution didn’t stall the management revolution. 4.5 million new managerial jobs were created between 1980 to 2010 and women make up the majority of that. (Yay! Good news!) But men still make up the majority of managers in total. (1)
  • According to the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), women are disproportionately affected by limited work-life balance choices, with disabled individuals and those with low qualifications feeling the biggest impact. (2)

European Commission (EC) data shows 44 per cent of people across the continent believe the most important role for a woman is to take care of the home and her family. However, this figure drops dramatically to just 11 per cent in Sweden, which is widely considered one of Europe’s most egalitarian nations. (2) Gender issues aren’t only a women’s issue anymore, it remains a fact that there are too few women in powerful roles to make a difference as compared to the many who are not. Women mentoring is an absolute necessity to disrupt the patterns of disadvantage that are specific to women. Given that there are so few of us at the workplace in powerful positions, it doesn’t make sense to kick down the ladder. Pay gaps and gender segregation of professions is a reality, but it doesn’t have to be so for the women who are entering the workplace today. Intentional mentoring leads to improvements in the representation of women at the workplace.

It’s time you played your role, not only to give back, but also to take you further.

Sign up to be a mentor or mentee under https://thrivewithmentoring.com/join-thrive/. Next launches in Basel on 22nd May and Zurich on 23rd May, 2019

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