Challenging Obstacles

A reminder that women continue to face obstacles they must challenge.

Challenging Obstacles

“Let’s all choose to challenge!” This is the motto of this year’s International Women’s Day.

Women continue to face obstacles they must challenge. Let’s look at some of them.

Internal Obstacles

Cultural stereotypes and gender misperceptions often keep women from pursuing their ambitions.  Meanwhile, women can be unaware of the fact that this pesky inner voice telling them that they are not good enough or that they are failing as mothers is just repeating cultural falsehoods. In Girl, Wash Your Face, Rachel Hollis, founder of the lifestyle website TheChicSite.com, offers a series of strategies for women to become the author of their own life story:

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Girl, Wash Your Face

Best-selling Girl book series author Rachel Hollis wants women to take charge of their happiness.

Rachel Hollis Thomas Nelson

Invisible Barriers

Patriarchy supports the beliefs that women aren’t as good or as valuable as men. Patriarchy is so much a part of society that most people don’t realize they hold those beliefs. Gender expert Michelle P. King describes numerous “invisible barriers” that women and other minorities face. “Invisible barriers” impede women’s advancement. For instance, companies often value women’s collaborative leadership style less than a dominant, aggressive male style. Yet women are often excellent leaders – creative, collaborative and democratic. To promote genuine workplace equality, King explains, companies must encourage a variety of skills:

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The Fix

Stop trying to fix yourself. It’s not you that’s broken; it’s your workplace.

Michelle P. King Atria Books

The “Likability Trap”

Warmth, the primary attribute of likeability in women, reads as weakness in the male-dominated business world. Yet, the more a woman demonstrates strength, the more that world perceives her as unlikeable. Journalist Alicia Menendez dissects the challenges facing women in the workplace and the public sphere as they try to navigate passage between the rock of “likeability” and the hard place of leadership qualities. Menendez underscores the personal and economic cost of these biases and how businesses and society must change the way they evaluate and treat women:

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The Likeability Trap

Women face conflicting demands: to exhibit leadership qualities and to be likeable.

Alicia Menendez HarperBusiness

Unconscious Bias

Women of color face even greater systemic barriers to advancement than white women. As Minda Harts explains in The Memo, workplaces discourage women from pursuing professional opportunities, particularly if they want to discuss systemic racism and the gender and racial wage gap. To overcome these systemic obstacles, Harts argues, women of color must embrace the belief that they deserve to reach the pinnacle of their ambition. It takes intentional effort to replace self-doubt and insecurity with the confidence you need to get ahead:

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The Memo

Professor Minda Harts offers real-world career counseling for women of color.

Minda Harts Seal Press

Join the Conversation!

On Thursday, March 11, (4:00 p.m. to 4:45 p.m. CET), Minda Harts will join us for a webinar on “Women of Color in Business.”

The conversation will explore how to make the workplace work for everyone, especially women of color. Topics we will cover include:

  • How to create an equitable workplace.
  • How to be an active ally to women of color in the workplace.
  • How to admit when you have said something that has harmed a colleague.

Register here.

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