In today’s economy, women are a strong force challenging the status quo. Yes, gone are the days of men working outside the home and women staying out of the workforce. According to recent studies, “Women today account for 57% of college undergraduates, 62% of graduate students, and majorities of those graduating from medical and law schools.” (Read more here) This means, of course, that women are also filling the ranks in many professions and many top companies. According to recent CNN articles, many of today’s global business leaders and powerful entrepreneurs are actually women.
Indeed, women are increasingly challenging the status quo and working in upper management roles, serving as leaders in a variety of settings. Where they are not found as often is private equity firms and venture capital firms (read more here). Indeed, according to this recent CNN.com article, “some top firms like Sequoia Capital don’t feature a single female investment professional.”
It is not entirely clear what attracts women to certain fields and discourages them from others. But, interestingly, the difference between men and women is different that what many people think. Indeed, according to one recent article, “new technologies have enabled neuroscience to discover that men and women tend to be wired differently in ways that incline men — can it be? — to behave more emotionally and irrationally in certain work situations, exploding the myth that women are the only emotional creatures in the workplace.” This same study also suggests that women might be helpful in certain contexts as their brains have less testosterone than male brains, which could actually “be stabilizing for firms and for the system as a whole.”
Regardless of what the scientific studies say, the data supports the benefits of gender diversity in the workplace. According to one recent study, for example, “companies with the highest percentages of women in their executive ranks achieved 35% higher returns on average” than comparable companies with fewer females.
So what do such diversity in the workplace findings mean for you? It means that it is beneficial to not only hire but also retain female employees. How?
1. Treat women and their career development as equal to their male colleagues.
2. Engage in family friendly workplace practices.
3. Encourage and model work-life balance.
How do you encourage women in the workplace?