Jyoti Khadgawat, Sr. Director - HR, Smule, 0
Women empowerment, a word that is believed to be originated in the mid-1980s by a feminist group of global south for addressing political mobilization and gender equalization, has come a long way and is now become a global phenomenon. Over the last 35 years, a considerable amount of effort has been made in this field to improve gender equality in the political, social, and professional world. Governments, international aid organizations, feminine role models, and global leaders are doing a great job in raising awareness and introducing programs to promote women’s education, to enable economic independence, to combat violence against women, and to increase participation of women at the top levels of business, academia, and politics. The #MeToo movement, India’s new Companies Act, and new legislation in California require at least one woman representation on public company’s board of directors; women’s land rights and tenure security initiative by the UN are a few examples of recent contributions in this field to help with women’s empowerment and gender equality. Business leaders like Sheryl Sandberg(COO, Facebook), Marc Benioff (Chairman & CEO, Salesforce), Jeff Smith(Co-Founder & CEO, Smule), and Arianna Huffington(Founder & CEO, Thrive Global) are coming forward and taking initiatives to sponsor women to reach the top positions inspiring others to do the same.
As a result, there are more women than ever graduating and entering the professional world with a dream to reach the top. We have come a long way and now we are proudly representing a good number of the professional workforce at entry level and middle level management. However, there is still a considerable gender gap in power positions in the political world, and we have been stuck at about 20 percent for women at the top professional c-suites level positions for at least a decade. That makes me think Why is our representation at the top level not increasing? What is stopping us from reaching those positions of power? What or who is holding us back? Why are many of us leaving the job force not wanting to come back?
We all have different perspectives and stories to share learnings from our struggles and those of others.
What worked and didn’t work for us in achieving the dream of holding power positions. After listening, observing, and watching women leaders who reached the top, and based on my journey, I believe we need to make some changes in how we approach our role individually and as a group, and how we can gain more confidence by releasing the undue pressure that we are creating for ourselves and other women. We need to free ourselves from these unreasonable expectations of being perfect and stress to finish the marathon of women’s empowerment and encourage and empower more women to reach positions of power.
We Can’t Have It All
Our biological clock and career clock are often set in parallel time zones. Two different, time consuming tasks that have the prime hours during the same time. How can we cope with the dual pressure of motherhood and a career path that both demand our prime hours? Many of us have battled with this dilemma in our personal
By letting go undue pressure and by being together, we can create a world of gender equality where everyone will have the same opportunities for education, economic participation, decision making, and freedom from violence
We need to stop running the marathon like a sprint. We need to appreciate that we can’t have it all every minute of every day. We need to understand that by acting like a superwoman, we are not only affecting our happiness, we are also creating lots of pressures for our daughters and false hopes for our sons. We need to be realistic; we need to learn to ask for help, we need to prioritize, and be okay with not being perfect everywhere. Many successful women in professions requiring significant travel, like armed forces, have one thing in common they know how to manage expectations, over come challenges, believe in themselves, build coping mechanisms, and when to ask for help. We should learn from them and set a path for ourselves that we can sustain for the long term.
"We need to be realistic; we need to learn to ask for help, we need to prioritize, and be okay with not being perfect every where"
We Are in This Together
We are hardwired to compete, compare, and undercut each other. I don’t know if it is our primal instinct to fight for the best genes or the centuries old societal norms that have turned us against each other, but this makes it difficult for us to succeed and gives undue advantage to men. Be it women dismissing other women’s claims of harassment as being whiney and narrow mindedness, or a women boss rejecting promotions to a pregnant team member due to her state or stay home moms under mining working mom capabilities to manage homes, or moms having skyrocketing unbelievable expectation from their working daughters/daughters in law, or women silently observing men gossiping over other women due to the need of fitting in. We are only creating an immense pressure for each other to be the best, which in turn creates selfdoubt in us regarding our abilities to perform and succeed. We are in this together, and we need to support each other to reaffirm our confidence and to bring changes that enhance our ability to manage expectation in our personal and professional lives.
We are the Agents of Change
Today stands on the shoulders of women who came before us and likewise tomorrow will stand on our shoulders. Our next generation’s experience will depend on the foundation we will build for them, and hence we all have responsibilities to drive change in our cultural & societal norms and many times even little actions can bring the change without disturbing required harmony and balance. We have lots of power as mothers to influence the next generation, our sons & daughters, and what they will observe from us will drive their actions in the future. By letting go undue pressure and by being together, we can create a world of gender equality where everyone will have the same opportunities for education, economic participation, decision-making, and freedom from violence.