As women, we often hear about the glass ceiling, that "unseen, yet unreachable barrier" that prevents us from making it to the upper echelons of the corporate world. It’s commonly believed these roadblocks exist only for senior-level positions. In a surprising and disappointing twist, however, the Wall Street Journal recently shared how women are running into obstacles at the "very first rung of the management ladder."
When I started my career as a CPA, I knew I didn’t want to be stationary. I made it my goal to advance, and I put in the hard work to make it happen. Along the way, I was fortunate to find companies that appreciated and rewarded strong work ethic. Now, as a business owner myself, I make it a priority to help others chart their own course.
Whether employee or manager, here are a few tips I recommend every woman use to tackle the gender gap:
You won’t always have a good boss, supervisor or human resources team. You have to be your own advocate. Ask your superiors, "What can I do better?" It can be difficult to hear criticism, constructive or not. It can be even harder to act on it. But learning how you can improve will make you a better employee and leader in the long term.
Ask for new challenges.
Both in business and in life, there’s a tendency for people to gravitate toward others who think or operate like them. As a result of this bias, men often bypass women for new roles, including management positions. Don’t give them the opportunity. Seek out new challenges in your professional and personal endeavors and, when you get them, put in the effort to excel. Next time, you may be considered for these opportunities on the front end.
Seek out professional development.
Our economy is quickly changing, and we must adapt with it. Stay ahead of the curve and your potential competition by signing up for continuing education, training sessions or professional development seminars. By investing in yourself and continuing to hone your skills, you’ll be a more appealing candidate when new positions open up.
It’s discouraging to hear about the workplace gender gap. But, if anything, it should fuel us to push for more. With these three tips, I hope women can gain the confidence they need to tackle their next career challenge.
Kristi Dannelley is president and co-owner of Magna IV, a more than 40-year-old print and marketing business in Arkansas. Under her guidance, Magna IV has become one of the largest printers in the Mid-South and top printers in the U.S., helping national brands centralize and streamline their marketing needs.