Was 2013 the Year of the Woman in Leadership, or is the Glass Ceiling Shatterproof?

By | December 19, 2013

Was 2013 the Year of the Woman in Leadership, or is the Glass Ceiling Shatterproof?

By most reports, 2013 has been a great year for women in leadership.  We have a female CEO at a major American automaker;  Duke Energy’s iconic CEO Jim Rogers passed the baton to Lyn Rogers.  Yahoo’s stock doubled in value since the ever-controversial Marissa Meyers took the helm. We have a woman running for President and a female heroine in Katniss Everdeen who is better than any guy in a cape I’ve ever seen.

If having  21 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 feels like an accomplishment, consider this:  Nearly half (47 percent) of the workforce is female, and of the 66 million women working, more than 40 percent work in management and other professional roles.  The glass ceiling is alive and well.

Perhaps that’s why this Pantene video depicting gender stereotypes in the workplace has gotten so much attention.  (My personal favorite: the man is the boss, the woman is bossy – where have I heard that one before?).  Women are judged by a different set of standards.  Yahoo’s Marissa Meyer’s first year and the number of “report cards” is simply astounding.   Conduct the same search for Tim Cook, and while those first year and second year stories exist, most focus on “accomplishments” not “grades.”

My view:  women are making progress.  It is encouraging to see women rise to the highest levels of leadership at companies that aren’t necessarily marketing to women, or reliant on women as the family decision maker: energy, automotive manufacturing, technology.  The barriers about what kinds of companies can have a woman at the helm are eroding, but as the Pantene video captures so well, women leaders are still judged more harshly.

The good news is we have plenty of inspiration for the work ahead.  Take for example, Fast Company’s piece featuring inspiration from the major female leaders of 2013…my personal favorite: being a leader is being a glorified crossing guard – you need to keep people moving, and make sure they don’t get hit by a car.

One anecdotal change I’ve seen in the year of Lean In – a reduction in woman-on-woman workplace hate.  Because accomplished, confident women love to see other women succeed.  Maya Angelou said it best, “I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.”  Go forth and conquer.  And don’t get hit by a car.



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