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Career Advancement: What’s a Woman to Do Amid Slow Progress?

Have women moved up in the world?

Women can do anything, yes. But specific sectors and careers are still closely guarded, reserved only for men. Consider how no female politician has held the highest office in America, whereas other countries have had top female leaders for years. Consider also how men and women still hold 62 percent of management positions hold 38 percent. And consider how most women are mistaken for junior roles (from secretaries to interns) even when they’ve been in a company as executives for years.

That is the unfortunate reality women in the workplace continue to face. Women have been battling for equality for decades, so you’re likely used to the uphill challenges. Like most women, you’re also not likely to give up. But you need a strategy to fight for your place in an organization.

Whether you’re training to hold a C-suite position at a safety management company or want to get the same wages as your male counterpart, you can achieve your goal with the right approach.

Take Risks

You miss opportunities when you choose to play it safe. Some of the most successful women in business have had the foresight to unlock opportunities by taking risks. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, once said, “Always take on new challenges — even if you are not sure you are completely ready.” But many women tend not to follow that advice.

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Case in point: men are more likely to apply for a job if they think they fit 60 percent of the criteria, whereas women will lack the confidence about their credentials unless they meet the requirements 100 percent.

Sometimes, when you commit to something you think you can’t do, you surprise yourself. The discovery becomes a remarkable journey because 1) you’ve taken on a challenge with success, and 2) you’ve uncovered an opportunity that moves you up in an organization.

Of course, it’s one thing to boldly go where you’ve never gone with skills. It’s another thing to take on a challenge with absolutely no background for it.

Focus on Growth

So every woman must develop a growth mindset, one that allows for the development of talent. It takes perseverance, practice, and hard work to gain the experience that advances your career. Training isn’t the only method for growing professionally. You could also consider taking on a mentor.

The right mentors help you shape and achieve your professional goals. Mentors provide constructive feedback, offer guidance about your ideas, and help mentees become effective leaders in their organization.

Be Resilient

Finally, have the courage to handle the criticism or patronizing remarks. Women leaders tend to face harsh judgment, so you need to develop a kind of resilience. Take it from the former presidential candidate, U.S. senator, and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, whose advice for women is: “Take criticism seriously, but not personally. If there is truth or merit in the criticism, try to learn from it. Otherwise, let it roll right off you.”

The workplace is tougher for women who want to advance their careers. But nothing is impossible for a woman who has the drive, skills, and passion for moving mountains.

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