As a woman in the workforce it seems as though we’re still fighting the good fight. At least that’s what we’re told. It’s as if we’re sitting in the “T” of the classroom and just to one-up the smirking, wavy-haired, pencil tapping boy next to us, we sit in the middle AND front. Boom. But, hold on – not only are we sitting in the prime spot, we are waving our right hand back and forth profusely to get called on and at some points supporting this arm with the left, saying, “Ooooo me, me – pick me,” while also removing the support hand to point at ourselves from time to time. I’m sure that you’ve done this and if not, you know the name of the kid who did.
This might be a little over the top but, on the flip side, if we aren’t exhausted from raising our hand, then we sit back and ride the ride, turn 70 and wonder why the world continues to shut women out. This morning I attended a meeting on “Creating a Purposeful Career” put on by the Ohio Chapter of the Healthcare Business Women’s Association and Cardinal Health. The 2012 HBA Woman of the Year, Carolyn Buck Luce, spoke on the topic and provided some great insight into the state of women in the workplace today.
While I was listening to her speak I was thinking about my reference point for women’s rights and came to the conclusion that it’s non-existent. As a Millennial, we’ve always had them, right? Well, at least legally. Since I was 6 years old, playing T-Ball on the boy’s cub baseball team and being selected for the All-Star team, I really didn’t think it mattered if I was the only girl. If I could throw better than your son, catch better than your son, and hit better than your son – I was probably going to get picked for the All-Star team… over your son. Sorry I’m not sorry, as a famous Twitter account would say. Also, Gatorade has it’s own version of that story I just told, if you click on the image above – great advertising.
As Carolyn pointed out – the movement for equality was really about opening doors. Having the ability to be considered equal and given the same opportunities. Voting, athletics, the corporate world – whatever we didn’t have before, we have it now; however, just because the elevator door opens and we step in – doesn’t mean it’s going up. It’s up to the women of the world to press the button. When you get to the floor, will you like what you see, will they let you off? Who knows? But, you have to be the one to take the first step and press the button.
The issue facing women in the workplace today isn’t finding a job or so very graciously being allowed the opportunity to have a job. The true challenge is career advancement. My view on this is if a woman can sell better than your son, interact with clients better than your son, and motivate better than your son – she should probably get picked for the senior leadership team over your son. Sound familiar?
But, sometimes that just isn’t enough. Carolyn also mentioned the active roles mentors and sponsors play in moving women up the corporate ladder. The key here is target audience. Yes, it is never too late to start, better late than never right? But, I think a real focus should be on Millennial Women. It’s great to have a discussion on mentoring and sponsorship – but where are the young people? Whether it’s because we don’t think it’s an issue and the world is our oyster or we just aren’t in leadership roles to make those decisions, I am unsure.
Nonetheless, note to 20 something year old women – don’t wait until you’re not a 20 something to be a part of the discussion about career advancement. If we’re proactive, we won’t have to wait 50 years for the next movement. Where will the state of women in the workplace be in another 50 years? Again, I am unsure – but just by pure mathematics my guess is the Millennial Women of today will know. Just be better than the boys and get picked for the All-Star team.
Please comment with any thoughts. If you’re a Millennial and want to know how to get started tweet me @nicole_tsp.