Thursday, 28 July 2011

Why is it always about the numbers when it comes to women in business?

No matter what other news is making the headlines, there is always at least one article, sometimes so small, it’s easy to miss that supports the predicted decline and demise of women in technology.

Why is there so much emphasis on the numbers?  Obviously there is a group of analysts tracking women in technology on a daily basis. So is there a similar group tracking men in technology? Or is it a given that men will always dominate the category and their numbers can only increase while women’s decrease.

Personally, I think the analysts are going about this all wrong….technology has become such an integral part of business, it is impossible to operate without it. So yes perhaps, at this time, there are not huge numbers of women (or men for that matter) developing killer apps or making headlines in technology, but we are extremely skilled in using the existing technology in practical and productive ways. Do any numbers exist on women who have successfully and creatively adapted existing technology to advance their business or their careers? 

Another area that is consistently being analysed is the ‘disappointing numbers’ in ’the empowerment of women in leadership positions’ or rather the lack of women in leadership positions.  Reports cite numbers like ’only 2% of the Fortune 500 CEOs are women’ (that’s 11 women actually).   More and more studies are commissioned to find a solution that will increase the numbers and everyone seems to be getting on the ‘How do we empower women?’ band wagon. The fact that this is being talked about and discussed in Government, financial circles and the media  is great and welcomed  but is it simply just ‘talk’, a popular topic but one that no one really cares about and no one believes will ever be fixed….do they even want it fixed?

For one thing stop trying to fix the women…….The problem is not with women, it’s with a mentality that believes that men are promoted based on their potential to do a job, while women are promoted based on their performance. It’s with the stereotyping that is prevalent even in these studies that describe women as emotional and passive. Perhaps if they left gender out of the equation, and based their studies on skills, experience, talent and ambition they may very well come up with a very different picture.

I like Marcia Reynold’s article in the Huffington Post (May 5.2011 - where she brilliantly challenges the McKinsey & Co report that claimed that "inadequate career development holds back female executives." 

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