Where Are All The Women Leaders? (Infographic)

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Where are all the women leaders? This female with glasses looks up and wonders.

These days we are seeing more and more women take the reins in the worlds of business, law, and politics. While women have made significant strides towards equality with men over the past century, considerable challenges still remain. The sore lack of women leaders is a symptom of this inequality. Despite years of advancement, women still made up only 12% of board members in 2015 and remain significantly low in number among the world’s national leaders. For every Marissa Mayer and Jacinda Ardern, there are millions of women who are missing out on leadership opportunities.

“We have a problem with women in leadership across the board. This leadership gap – this problem of not enough women in leadership – is running really deep and it’s in every industry.”

– Sheryl Sandberg, Author of Lean In

What factors contribute to low numbers of women leaders?

Firstly, many women struggle to succeed in certain environments due to gender bias, discrimination and negative stereotyping. Another major factor hindering women’s success is the “motherhood penalty. ” Women may have difficulty gaining employment, getting promoted or obtaining a higher salary when they have a family. Another key barrier for women in leadership is a lack of role models to motivate and inspire future generations of females.

Why is having more women leaders important?

The presence of women in the top-tier of any organization benefits everyone. Women introduce a diversity of leadership and communication styles and can lend a fresh perspective on issues. Furthermore, a greater number of women leaders has been shown to contribute to higher profitability, a healthy national economy and public policy innovation. It’s clear that more women in leadership is a win-win for everyone.

If you want to learn more about the subject of women and leadership, including gender bias, check out the compelling infographic below from the team at Trainwest.

Why do we need more female leaders? This infographic explains.
Gender bias is one factor that challenges women leaders. Infographic via Trainwest.

48 COMMENTS

    • It’s sad that gender equality doesn’t still exist. And the LGBT issues are another issue, yes.

      • You…are positive energy, and that’s why I adore you and WWI!
        I’m making a presentation to the Women’s Committee tomorrow. We’re wanting to get a private communications hub and forum going.
        I’ve put a lot of time into exploring options. Very excited!

        • OHHHH! I’m just reading this comment now. Thank you ♥ And I hope your presentation to the committee went great. You’re amidst the waves of change, dear Resa. Keep swimming! xxoo

  1. Hi Christy,

    great message. We are all equal by birth, but it seems that society impose divisions!It’s up to us to accept them or to fight against them !

  2. There’s also something about raising girls to believe that it’s OK to become leaders. I think there can often be an internal struggle with women about what they’re allowed to do, how much they’re allowed to achieve, who they’re allowed to be that can inhibit their progression to leadership positions. More female leaders would definitely help in this regard but there also needs to be a change in families so girls don’t grow up to believe they have to diminish themselves in order to be liked or that any power they have is only in relation to how they look. Thanks for this post, Christy, really thought-provoking.

    • Julie, your comment is so thoughtful and I thank you for it. The emphasis on the appearance of females from the time we’re girls is something that the media is reinforcing and I’m so tired of it… I want more people to take a step back as you do and see we can make changes once we realize the gender-biased messages of society aren’t ones we have to go along with.

  3. The urge to procreate, especially as a woman reaches her thirties and realises that her fertility is limited, is very strong. Once a baby appears on the scene, a mother bonds with it very quickly and many mothers prefer to juggle part time work with looking after their children rather than feeling guilty for pursuing a career and leaving their children with a childminder all day. Of course there are exceptions, but usually women are happier doing part time work if it means they are the primary caregiver and can take their kids to school and pick them up instead of somebody else doing it. This is especially important if they are a single parent. In two-parent families the man usually earns more, and therefore this further encourages part time work for a woman, whose first responsibility is more often than not to her children rather than to any job. Children are often ill as they build their immune systems, and mothers often have to take time off to look after them unless they have somebody in the family on permanent standby or earn enough to employ a nanny. Until men give birth to babies, these issues will always hinder women in becoming leaders.

    • Stevie, you make many intriguing points here! The guilt many mothers feel when they are working away from their child is something that comes up sometimes in comments here. There is so much on womens’ plates and it’s a lot to juggle. Thankfully many men I know are stepping up with meal prep, laundry, etc. This helps free up moms’ time a little. I see so many obstacles for female leaders and your comment makes me realize there are even more than I initially thought!

  4. During my 35-year secondary school teaching career, I shared my view that because men and women are profoundly different in many ways, they each bring different things to the problem-solving table. To exclude one group is to cripple the problem-solving process. It is the major reason, I believe why we have profound social problems in our western societies in a day and age when such problems should have been banished to the ashes of history. If we truly want peace, a gentler, more loving society, we need the leadership of both genders. So let it be written. So let it be done.

  5. Thank you, Christy, for sharing this informative article. After working in biotech corporation for 25 years, my experience is the upper executives typically want a stereotypical male leader who is straight-talking, aggressive and decisive deal-makers. Typically, other type of management styles that promote the ability to foster people’s strengths and creativity, and build effective teams are not valued. And the ability to play politics has a lot to do whether someone rises or not. There has to be a cultural change in which there is a longer-term vision of building a company with diversity rather than the short-term vision of making a short-term profit, no matter the cost to employees.

    • There really is a lot of politics, whether it’s readily apparent or not, within most big organizations, at least at the top. Your experiences that you share here help drive the point home that there is work to be done within organizational structure to level the field gender-wise. Thanks Linnea for the astute comment.

  6. women are starting to rise up, in the working community which is good, Hillary Clinton is a good example for me, for braking the barrier of women running for president, as women we need to start supporting one another, which can go along way.

  7. What a great post and infographic. Many strides have been made, but there is still more progress to be made. And when an assertive woman tries to speak her mind, I’ve found that they are viewed more negatively. However, if a white male does the same, he’s a leader. It’s interesting the gender differences that still go on. On a really good note, however, the prime minister of New Zealand is a woman who also just had a baby, while in power! So…progress is being made. 🙂

    • I love how you state the reality and then move onto the positive point about New Zealand 🙂 You’re an optimist at heart! It’s one of the things I love most about you xo

  8. Some interesting information and statistics here, Christy. The problem with remediating this through legislation is that you end up with an inferior product often. It takes away freedom of choice and a company’s ability to chose the best candidate. This can be disastrous.

  9. Excellent content! This is something that I feel very passionate about and I’m happy to see others participating in the conversation. I believe that a large part of this, as you mentioned in discussing unconscious bias and stereotyping, is that there is a social cost for women who exude confidence and negotiate in the same way that a successful man would. Behaving as a leader is too often perceived as behaving as a b*** or being bossy, and that stigma needs to be squashed. The more self aware we become the more progress we will make! Keep doing what you’re doing and discussing the issues. 🙂 .

    • Oh you’re so right about strong women being labeled the “b” word ~ And the double standard as men don’t often get this reputation for being aggressive. I thank you for the supportive words here about the posts too!

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