Over the last decade, much has been said and done about women empowerment and advancement in the workforce. More girls enter universities than boys and yet female labour force participation remains low. The leadership canvas is even more skewed.
In Malaysia, 70% of public university enrollments in 2016 were women, but the female labour force participation was only 54.3% compared to 80.2% for men. Female numbers drop significantly in the top ranks with only 24% in senior management and 19.1% on the boards of top 100 public listed companies in Malaysia.
Movements like Lean In highlight many of the challenges women face at the workplace. Here are our top 4 tips to overcome existing barriers and climb up the leadership ladder:
1. Take career risks
Research shows that women generally shy away from taking career risks and putting their names forward to leap into a big new role when they don’t feel they have 100% of the qualifications. In contrast, men are a lot more confident in raising their hands for new opportunities and apply for job when they meet just 60% of the qualifications.
Two main behaviours are commonly perceived to be the reason: women’s lack of confidence in their own abilities, and fear of failure. A study that interviewed over a thousand men and women indicated that 10% of women did not apply due to lack of confidence and 22% did not want to put themselves out there if they were likely to fail.
Failure, rather than success, is where the most-valued learning comes from. In this age of disruption where failure is becoming more acceptable than ever before, learning to fail and dealing with the outcomes are seen as an essential leadership quality. When in doubt, ask yourself, what would you do if you were not afraid?