To be honest I’m tired of the gender inequality argument. I have been in technology for over 25 years and there has never been a better and more democratic playing field for women than there is now.
Women now outnumber men at universities 55/45 and I don’t think anyone now doubts that in academia female diligence is proven; yet today only five per cent of Fortune 500s have a female at the helm. This however, is still progress compared with 40 years ago.
It was back in the late 1980s that the first female CFO was appointed to a UK public company. I know one boss of a public company who specifically sought a female CFO because he knew that diligence, loyalty and untainted quality advice is what he would get! What is surprising is that he specifically chose a mum, someone who would finish work at 5pm. He understood that men and women work differently. The conclusion was and still is, that if you want to seek out the height in efficiency, effort, time and output ratios, then check out the single working mum. No time for the male dominated water cooler politics, posturing or elongated meetings.
So can women do better? Can we accelerate progress towards complete equality? Quotas are working in some regions, but the only true change will happen when both sexes work to their strengths. The true answer is having the balance of both skills in the management team. Education is the answer. Broaden the range of interests and ignite the passion in school children and they will flourish. Teach them to work together in the classroom as a team and they will do so in the boardroom. Check out how one organisation is already doing this: http://www.bizworld.org/
If you ask what women can do better or differently, there is no easy answer – everyone is different. A woman behaving and taking the role of a man is not the answer, but a degree of emotional detachment is occasionally useful. More importantly having the confidence to believe in oneself. This is natural for men, whether it’s deserved or not yet still sorely lacking for women, as highlighted in the book The Confidence Code: The Science and Art of Self-Assurance—What Women Should Know, by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman.
Women aren’t taking action often enough and that’s crucial. We don’t have to be perfect. Men are confident about their ability at 60 per cent, but women don’t feel confident until they’ve checked off each item on the list aiming for 100 per cent.
Worrying less about what others think of you is key. Even a bit of male arrogance delivered with charm is effective. It’s time to get on and just be the best that you can be and not worry about the others.
If there are any dinosaurs still lingering in the management team they won’t last long.