And guess what? I wasn’t hired for either of those jobs because of my gender.
Many women – and I consider myself one of them – see themselves as much more than a female leader. I feel this label can detract and deflect attention from my professional and personal achievements. I, for one, am thrilled it’s become (and continues to become) easier for women to be who they want and do what they want without the shadow of gender stereotypes.
At the start of my career, I often felt confined in how I should act. It took a long time for me to be comfortable enough to bring my authentic self to the fore. When I look back, I feel like jumping into a DeLorean, travelling back in time and giving young Laura a pep talk. Along with a few pointers on questionable 80s fashion trends, I would tell her: you deserve to be here. Your voice matters. Your opinions are valid.
Times (and thankfully fashion!) have changed since then and, in terms of women in the workplace and gender stereotyping, we have made progress.
Yet, we’re still highlighting women achieving leadership roles. Sure, we should celebrate them. But shouldn’t we celebrate the candidate for the totality of who they are and not just their gender?
So, how do these changes in societal demographics affect women in the workplace?
Organizations are explicitly stating gender workforce targets and making strides to ensure diversity in hiring panels and candidate slates.
The Global Gender Gap Report tracks progress towards closing gender gaps on a national level. To turn these insights into concrete action and national progress, we have developed the Closing the Gender Gap Accelerators model for public private collaboration.
These accelerators have been convened in Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Panama and Peru in partnership with the InterAmerican Development Bank.
In 2019 Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and Africa to launch a Closing the Gender Gap Accelerator. While more women than men are now enrolled in university, women represent only a little over a third of professional and technical workers in Egypt. Women who are in the workforce are also less likely to be paid the same as their male colleagues for equivalent work or to reach senior management roles.
In these countries CEOs and ministers are working together in a three-year time frame on policies that help to further close the economic gender gaps in their countries. This includes extended parental leave, subsidized childcare and removing unconscious bias in recruitment, retention and promotion practices.
If you are a business in one of the Closing the Gender Gap Task Force countries you can join the local membership base.
If you are a business or government in a country where we currently do not have a Closing the Gender Gap Task Force you can reach out to us to explore opportunities for setting one up.
Those of us who have broken the glass ceiling must continue to pave the way for future generations, and to share what we have learned and the experiences that have shaped us. My hope for the future, for my children and for future generations, is that we move away from the term “female leader” and start recognizing women for what they are: inspirational, transformational, powerful and high achievers.
This content was originally published here.