The worst kind of battle is the one you don’t see coming. Recent political ambitions have spawned a
movement of ferocious attacks on women’s rights, including everything from abortion and health care to pay equity and domestic violence. The latest item on the social agenda to come under scrutiny is women’s leadership ambitions.
Recent studies have attributed the lack of female power to a decline in ambition for leadership, particularly among young women. A study by Zeno Group revealed that only 15 percent out of a survey of 1,000 women between ages 21 and 33 endeavored to acquire a leadership role at a large or prominent organization. Nearly half of survey participants felt that the personal sacrifices weren’t worth the pursuit much less the attainment of the proverbial dangling carrot. As a result, women in positions of leadership have stalled.
In the political realm, only 18 percent of women hold seats in the United States Congress, 20 percent in the Senate and 17.9 percent hold a place at the table in the House of Representatives. Corporate America tells an even grimmer tale with women holding a little over fifteen percent of positions as directors in Fortune 500 companies, 10 percent as chief financial officers, and 4 percent as chief executives at Standard & Poor’s 500 companies.
To the casual observer, it may appear that instead of digging a more level playing field, many of us have stopped playing or opted out altogether. However, I encourage women to expand their definition of leadership beyond the boardroom and political offices, and unlike our sisters from previous generations, millennials and baby boomers alike, are finding innovative ways to lead that coincide with their lifestyles.
Without question, women dominate social media and even use it as a catalyst to create dialogue around issues affecting themselves and other women. Nearly nineteen million women document their experiences, share insights, and provide recommendations online according to Pew Research Center statistics, becoming thought leaders in their own right. While men are close behind authoring 16 million blogs, none are as profitable as their female counterparts in harnessing financial support from consumer brands.
Before we’re so quick to count young women out as future leaders, let’s consider how they have harnessed social media to create economical opportunities and social change. In addition, I invite women to venture one step further and examine how we can expand upon this virtual platform to build a collective movement of social advancement that will break down barriers to leadership and inspire others to strive for something more than the corner office.
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