The Workplace Barriers That Women Leaders Face – and How to Overcome Them

The Workplace Barriers That Women Leaders Face – and How to Overcome Them
From Recruiter - November 18, 2016

As women leaders progress in their careers, they often face barriers that prevent them from fulfilling their true potential. To understand how women can break through these barriers, we first need to understand what those barriers are.

Cyndi Sax, senior vice president of assessment providerCaliper,leads Calipers Women Leaders Program, a talent development program that draws on the firms research into the unique attributes and behaviors that characterize women leaders todayas well as the challenges they face. Here are her thoughts on the obstacles women often run into in the workplace:

Perceptions of Performance

Women often try to outperform male leaders in order to be perceived as effective or successful because they feel held to lower standards due to their gender.

We have found that resilience is one of the keys to overcoming leadership challenges, especially in emerging women leaders, Sax says.

Some women naturally possess an ability to shake it off when something doesnt go the way they planned, while others work to develop their skills and the associated confidence. Rather than take a one-size-fits-all approach, Calipers coaches work with individuals to identify the best ways of bolstering confidence and persevering when faced with obstacles.

Work and Family Life Conflicts

The burden of balancing work and family life traditionally falls on womens shoulders. The curriculum of the Women Leaders Program builds upon the premise that each womans experience, goals, and challenges may be different from the woman seated next to her. Therefore, the program begins by creating a safe environment for exploring the topics of performance pressures, family conflicts, and stereotypes within the workplace.

There are no right or wrong feelings beyond validating the value of each woman present, Sax says.Our coaching philosophy assumes that each woman knows internally what is right for her.

One-on-one coaches guide women through the process of heightening their awareness so that they can identify the impact workplace barriers have on their lives. During the workshop, women give voice to their inherent value, identify their greatest obstacles, and ascertain the most significant, impactful behavioral changes they can make to overcome challenges within the workplace.

We encourage [women] to consider how [they]will support long-term change so that [they] can reap the benefits of the workshop long after it has been completed,Sax says.

Some suggestions include seeking a mentor or coach, joining a womans circle, developing mindfulness practices, or seeking specific skills-building training programs.

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