Today is the last day of women’s history month and as significant as the support and awareness of women has been these past 31 days, it is important to maintain this solidarity the rest of the year.
In the professional arena, women entrepreneurs are reaching historic achievements. Women are starting 1,100 new businesses every day and the Small Business Administration (SBA) recently announced that they are presently awarding 5.05 percent of federal small business contracts to women-owned small businesses. Women-owned businesses grew by 27.5 percent from 2007 to 2012, and women business owners are continually setting the stage for tomorrow’s entrepreneurs.
The American Association of University Women (AAUW) released a report this week detailing the state of women in leadership. AAUW asserts, “Women are much less likely than men to be in leadership positions. In universities, businesses, courts, unions, and religious institutions, male leaders outnumber female leaders by wide margins.”
Taking these findings into consideration, it is remarkable to compare the opportunities of women leaders to the successes they have been able to attain. The truth is that despite their successes, women continue facing disadvantageous circumstances in leadership.
- Of U.S. State Legislators, 25 percent are women, of which 5 percent are women of color
- Among executives, 63 percent are white men, 24 percent are white women, 2 percent are black women, 1 percent are Hispanic women, 1 percent are Asian-American women and less than 1 percent are women of other racial and ethnic groups
- Only 19 percent of the U.S. Congress in 2016 is comprised of women
- There are only 6 female governors
The report articulates, “There is no lack of qualified women to fill leadership roles. Women earn the majority of university degrees at every level except for professional degrees, and more women are in the workforce today than ever before.”
What or who is holding women back? Is this a case of unqualified candidates or of unchallenged stereotypes and perceptions? How can we increase female leaders, and is their lack preventing men from taking on supportive roles in the personal and professional setting?