Hi! I’m Stephanie Breedlove, Co-Founder of Care.com HomePay, Author and Angel Investor. I absolutely adore taking an idea and giving it life in the form a business, then leading it to its full potential. Nothing is more fun. (Seriously!) I’d love for every woman who wants to start her own business to say the same thing, so here I am, mentoring millennial entrepreneurs. When I’m not working, I like to recharge and head outdoors to hike, bike, or stand up paddle board!
Is that list of business news and trending articles you’ve tagged still unread? I get it. Allow me to help. Take a couple minutes to read my summary of articles serving the most pertinent, actionable business topics. Or, take 10 minutes to read the full article, and put another brick on the foundation of your growing career.
This Week’s Must-Read:
Who it’s for:
Anyone who desires equality in business leadership.
Why it’s important:
When you picture a leader, what kind of person comes to mind? Be honest, did you picture a man? In a recent experiment, Tina Keifer, a researcher at the U.K.’s University of Warwick, asked her subjects to draw a picture of a leader. Almost all the subjects, both male and female, drew a man. Ugh.
Before the feminist movement of the 1960s and ‘70s, a woman’s “place” was often at home. By the ‘80s, however, women were entering the workforce en masse at a time when leadership qualities remained decidedly male. Women took on “power dressing,” or shoulder-padded suits that mirrored their male counterparts’ attire, which was the norm. Yep, they even rocked the giant shoulder pads in my quest to be seen as a leader, and I’m so glad we’ve progressed!
Today, the continued expectation that women must act in “masculine ways” to get ahead has created a culture that asks many women to hide their authentic selves. But the emergence of the #MeToo movement offers an opportunity for change; we just need to act smartly on the opportunity. And science shows change is smart business: A study by EY suggested that increasing the percentage of women in top spots, from zero to 30 percent, is linked to a 15 percent jump in profits.
Men aren’t the only ones who need to reflect on their gender biases: Ladies, we need to get self-aware too. In a global survey of 9,000 women and men by Unilever in 2017, 55 percent of the women reported they believed men made better leaders in high-stakes projects.
The numbers don’t lie: Valuable leadership characteristics, no matter which physical body they are expressed through, have proven to positively impact a business across the board, from communication and team building to overall business performance. As biases dissolve, traditionally “feminine” leadership traits will not only be perceived as strong and powerful, but as fundamental qualities of any leader, man or woman.
Top Take-Away/Final Thought: Rebalancing the gender power dynamics in our businesses doesn’t mean advocating for the rise of women and the fall of men. Rather, it’s about creating space for a wider and more encompassing spectrum of positive leadership qualities.
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