Article: Leadership Belongs to Those Who Take it

#FounderFriday: Marlon van Dijk
6th February 2019
#FounderFriday: Daphne Gerritse
8th February 2019

Own your own success: leadership belongs to those who take it

Why don’t more women own their power? In the light of the last boardroom sessions in 2018 – focusing on the generation differences – we’ve continued to consider the different factors that prevent women from owning their success as well as their role in promoting other women as leaders in the workplace.

In this article, Elisa-Marie Dumas – head of Global Programs & Partners at Investible – discusses an article that cited a Harvard study comparing women from the Baby Boomer and Gen X* generations.

The article describes behavioral differences from the two groups, explaining that although women boomers are career-driven, they are less likely to be vocal about their needs and engage in self-promotion. They’re comfortable working hard at their jobs but they don’t feel compelled to trumpet their achievements to the world. In contrast to the above, Gen X women are more likely to talk about their successes and attribute them to their own savvy. Additionally, 74% of Gen X-ers consider themselves ambitious, compared to 65% of women from the baby-boom generation.

What caused this change in attitude, and what does it mean for trends in female leadership moving forward? I believe that boomers are more constrained by traditional guidelines for conduct (and boy, were there a lot of them for women). How many of you remember your mother’s etiquette rule: it’s not polite to talk about yourself? Throughout the decades, what were considered strict codes always cross your legs when you sit; no white after labor day, have faded considerably for younger generations. It’s become common knowledge that in the 21st century, everyone needs to brag to get ahead.

While it’s easy to roll your eyes and urge boomer women to get with the program, can we really blame them? During a commencement speech for the Barnard class of 2011, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg explained that as men become more powerful, everyone likes them more but when women get more successful, both men and women like them less.

How have these disparate attitudes manifested themselves in workplace trends? The UC Davis Census of California Women Business Leaders 2010 found that only 9.5 % of highest paid executive positions in the state are held by women. In the Fortune
500
, women only hold 15.7% of board seats. These statistics reflect boomers’ reluctance to act as advocates for themselves and other women around them.

The ambitious nature of Gen X women has manifested itself in a different way: survey conducted by the Center for Work-Life Policy demonstrates that 43% of university educated Generation X women do not have children because they
prioritized their careers.

In my opinion, it’s never too late to learn. Boomer ladies, take a hint from your Gen X counterparts: speak up and get ambitious! It’s time to change the numbers, and it’s time to change them now.


*Gen X or Generation X is typically defined as those born between 1965 and 1978, while Baby Boomers are individuals born between 1946 and 1964.

Original article written by: Elisa-Marie Dumas, Investible.
Edited by: Maxime ten Brinke, TheNextWomen.