Many organizations around the world have one thing in common; they are run by men.
These organizations do not see female promotion into senior positions as a strategic business
imperative. Thus, leaving women stuck in mid-level positions while the men in the company
promote upwards. There are a few reasons that this bias exists whether the organization is
aware of it or not.
Reason #1: Limited Focus Initiatives
Organizations may have programs in place to develop leadership skills, but they are often not
fully executed, or they are enormous and difficult to follow. They may also have a limited focus
or train employees on lower-level tasks that mid-level employees may have already mastered.
Another issue with some initiatives is that they are not properly communicated as employees
move from entry level to mid-level positions. Therefore, employees are not aware of the
opportunities that exist.
Reason #2: Accountability
The organization is not “walking the talk” or following through with their promises. Women are
shown opportunities to excel in the workplace, but the opportunities are never actually
presented. This happens many times when an inside hire for an upper-level position is given
directly to a man and not opened to other qualified employees, including women.
Reason #3: Power Struggles
Research has shown that women struggle with delegating tasks. Recent studies have shown
women see delegation as more aggressive and assertive, which many think will hurt their image
in the organization. Women are much more empathetic towards their colleagues, whereas the
men are assertive and dominant to get things moving. Men, who are often in the higher
positions, allow this power to be seen as their dominance in the office setting, whereas women
don’t always have the same thirst for power and often seem much more civil with their
subordinates. This is a good quality and one which women can mentor to their male peers!
Reason #4: Risk Takers are Favored
Women have been taught not to advocate for their positions and themselves because society
has taught them to be docile, quiet, and kind. They have been taught to be more accepting.
The women of the organization then feel oppressed, as if they cannot take the risk to bring up
ideas during meetings or take on assignments due to this lack of power and worth to the
Reason #5: The Full Plate
Along with execution, women are expected to multitask, taking on a multitude of projects at
once because they multi-task well. Unfortunately, with a large number of projects, the
organization often avoids including a woman who has multiple projects already in a leadership
role on new initiatives. Women often use collaborative influencing to aid in the large
multitasking operation and are perceived as not taking a stance on changing the way
production is handled or pushing for new initiatives.
Organizations have much work to do to help women evolve into leadership positions. Some
organizations like Enspire Energy, in Chesapeake, Virginia, are on the up-and-coming women
lead business lists. The opportunities were presented and taken by Mary Hensley and Julie
Hashagen, with their vast experience and knowledge, they decided not to be oppressed
anymore by large organizational life and start their own business to strive.