More women are smashing through the glass ceiling than ever before, and a new report released by Glassdoor shows that although the gender pay gap still exists, it is beginning to shrink. What’s even more encouraging is that more Australian women are running their own businesses, and they now account for 33 percent of owner-managers in Australia.
Of course, navigating the business world as a woman isn’t without its challenges, and women still tend to be underrepresented in leadership positions. The good news is that studies do show that the desire to take on leadership roles is comparable across genders, and that 65 percent of Australia’s workforce would like to see more women in leadership roles.
So if you’re a woman interested in forging your own path in business, here are some important pieces of advice that will inspire and empower you.
1. Be yourself
At times, women in leadership may feel they need to act like more like man in order to get ahead, but as a woman, you have your own unique qualities that will help you succeed.
In fact, one large-scale study of more than 50,000 leaders around the world found that women in positions of leadership scored higher than men in certain leadership competencies such as taking initiative, practicing self-development, and inspiring and motivating others to high performance.
So rather than trying to be like someone else, focus on your own strengths and spend more time developing your own leadership style.
2. Build a support network
There’s nothing quite as valuable as being able to learn from those who have gone before you, which is why finding yourself strong female role models can be so empowering.
Not sure how to go about it? Start by looking at your own networks. Who do you admire and look up to? Most major cities will also have leadership conferences and conventions for specific industries, and attending some of these can be a great way to grow your network and meet influential women in business. Another good way to find inspiration as well as valuable insider knowledge is to read books written by female leaders, such as Sheryl Sandberg’s “Lean In.”
3. Confidence is key
Have you ever felt like a fraud at work or wondered how you ever managed to fool everyone into thinking you were better at your job than you really are?
This feeling is known in psychology as ‘imposter syndrome’ and is experienced by both men and women. The good news, however, is that research has found that women’s confidence increases more with age than men’s does. Of course, you don’t have to wait around for this to happen; focus on building your self-confidence with proven strategies like using positive self-talk, striking power poses, and getting out of your comfort zone.
4. Challenge the status quo
As a woman in a leadership role, it’s only natural to feel some hesitance when it comes to changing something that’s always been done a certain way. After all, women are brought up to believe they must be agreeable and play it safe, while boys are taught to take risks.
But remember that every leader or organisation that has achieved anything has had to challenge the status quo at some point, because that’s the only way to drive change. So if you’ve done your research and believe there’s a better way to do things, don’t be afraid to rock the boat.
5. Don’t be afraid to fail
Men and women respond differently to failure and setbacks. Research has found that when girls make mistakes, they are more likely to interpret it as a sign that they lack ability and give up. Boys, on the other hand, tend to attribute it to other circumstances, and are more likely to persist.
So rather than seeing mistakes as a sign that you’re failing, try to remind yourself that if you are stepping outside of your comfort zone and doing something you’ve never done before, there’s a good chance you will make some mistakes. That’s how it works, and it’s these same mistakes that will help you learn and move forward. Don’t let fear of failure stop you from taking risks and pursuing your goals.
Want to learn about business administration and management? Open Colleges has a wide range of nationally accredited courses that will equip you with the skills and practical knowledge you need to kick start your career in business.