According to an article published in early February on Forbes.com, women made up less than 5% of the Fortune 500 CEO Population. While that news is alarming and infuriating, it’s not what matters. What matters isn’t as much about the actual numbers as it is about why the numbers are what they are. Believe it or not there are still some people out there who insist that there are simply some traits men have that women don’t and it is those traits that keep women from leveling up within the workplace.
Yeah—according to these forward thinkers (who are not, by the way, solely male), it’s not male privilege and ingrained sexism that’s keeping us down. It’s ourselves.
Except…not so much.
Here are the 5 traits that men have but women, supposedly, lack:
- Emotional Maturity (don’t care about being liked)
- Independence (don’t care about being popular)
Quite an outrageous claim!
The truth is that women are just as likely to have these traits as men. The difference is that women are more likely to be punished for these traits while men are more likely to be rewarded. The classic example, most recently cited in Business Insider’s article “Men Dominate Conversations, Women Keep Quiet,” talks about how when men are “aggressive” while women who display the same behaviors are “bitchy.”
Meanwhile, according to The New York Times’ Alan Goldman, there are plenty of male CEOs who wish that they could lead in a more “feminine” way. They talk about empathetic listening, emotional intelligence, being able to openly care about people regardless of their level of success or their position within the workplace food chain and even show their feelings once in a while.
The problem isn’t whether women should act like men to get ahead or whether we should feel bad for men who want to give in to their feminine sides. The problem is characterizing certain traits as masculine and others as feminine in the first place. The fact that certain traits are perceived as masculine is simply because for thousands of years the women who possessed the same traits were forced into positions of subservience and lesser status than their male counterparts.
The article goes on to point out just how dumb it is for anybody to feel like they have to choose between “masculine” or “feminine” traits when they are in positions of leadership. We agree. If a certain style of leadership suits you—whether or not your gender matches the gender that history has associated with that style—go with it.
Finally, it is important to point out some women are just as likely as some men to try to keep women from climbing the ladder of success. While many believe that the more women we have at the top of the ladder the better it will be for everybody. These women should be willing to do whatever it takes to help fellow business women rise to the top, from helping hopeful ladder climbers find executive coaches to offering scholarships for advanced degrees and career specific training. There are also some women who are incredibly competitive (remember that trait that supposedly men have but we don’t?) and believe that allowing more women access to that level of success makes the field harder for the women who are already there to shine.
This was touched on in the blog post “Why Were These Women So Supportive?”
Really, there aren’t any traits that men possess that women don’t. Women are just as competitive and independent as men. They are just as willing to sacrifice popularity and congeniality to get ahead and they aren’t afraid to be seen as “bitchy” if it means it gets the job done.
So…why not just focus on getting the job done? Thoughts?
Kevin is an account director at Online Rep Management and has been working within internet marketing and public relations for over 8 years. Kevin got his start working online in SEO, link building, and some affiliate marketing. Kevin is most passionate about helping good brands become online entities. Read more on Google+ follow Kevin on twitter!