When I was a young girl, it never occurred that I shouldn’t want to be a lawyer. Being a girl didn’t make me feel any less able or likely to be successful in a career as a lawyer. While men still dominated the profession, growing up in the 1980s there were enough pop culture references to women lawyers to make it seem like a reasonable aspiration. Thank you Claire Huxtable and Christine from Night Court! In college I excelled and never considered that my gender might play a role in my success. I was a student, defined more by my affinity toward language (and procrastination), than my ability (or inability) to apply eyeliner on the shuttle bus from my dorm to class. In law school, the girls I went to school with were excelling, and were clearly represented among the top ranks of our class, whether by their grades, leadership on law review or advocacy competitions.
It is no question that there is a lack of diversity in upper level management, particularly in Fortune 500 countries. One of the best ways to change that is to talk about it.
This article from Fortune discusses a new study from the Center for Talent Innovation regarding racial divides in senior management, particularly the problems faced by women of color. According to the article:
[t]he report found that while black, female professionals are more likely to seek top leadership roles, they are treated as virtually invisible. Fortune received an advance copy of the report. “Black women who are ready to lead—whose qualifications, track record, drive, and commitment make them ideal candidates for executive roles—stick firmly to the marzipan layer, in sight of the C-suite, but seemingly not in the sights of those who occupy it,” say the authors, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, founder/CEO of the Center for Talent Innovation, and Tai Green, the organization’s Vice President of Communications.
This article should be eye opening to all of us, there is a group of ready, willing and capable leaders who are being over looked everyday.
This article has caused me to take pause and consider ways to recognize and encourage those who should be in positions of leadership to step forward.
What do you think, has the situation described in this article been your experience, or the experience of someone you know?
How do we combat these stereotypes?