Intern Malika Mehrotra guest blogs about why the lack of female leadership in corporate America is no joking matter…
Like most students my age today, I have heard that joke about women belonging in the kitchen. Sure, we all laugh and don’t take it too seriously because it deals with a harmless concept like making a sandwich. Yet, we don’t always realize that these jokes may affect our actions and beliefs when it comes to supporting women outside the classroom or dorm room – and into the corporate world.
Just recently, I read an article on Forbes.com titled “Why Most Women Will Never Become CEO”, written by Gene Marks. The author justifies his opinion by narrating two stories about picking his children up from the movies. He compares the conversation of his daughter and her friends to that of his son and his friends. From this, he concludes that such an experience epitomizes the difference between men and women in chief corporate positions.
First off, I don’t think that anyone can justify someone’s future from some small talk in a car ride home from the movie theater. I also believe that there is no correlation between what someone deems important in his or her teenage years to what actually matters in a corporate position.
With that said, Marks explains “all” that is holding women back in the workplace. A woman cannot be too attractive for the workplace, but still must be considered good looking. She must be able to handle being a fulltime mother and a fulltime employee.
He continues to list contradictory expectations of women in the corporate realm. But not once does he acknowledge how determined and persistent women are, as they remain working diligently in what has long been a very patriarchal society. Despite the barriers in place, women are actually improving the male-dominated society. In a research study done in 2007 by Catalyst, on average, Fortune 500 companies with higher representation of women board directors perform better financially than those with lower representation.
It’s not easy being a woman in a man’s world. But that doesn’t mean it’s not possible, as Marks seems to suggest. The reason why it’s tough to be successful corporately is because of the men who can’t handle the competition. Successful women don’t need the approval of insecure men. We’re capable of climbing to the top of the ladder, no matter who’s below to comment on the view.
I believe we shouldn’t be constrained by these definitions created by men who don’t even know our potential. Men shouldn’t be able to socially limit women. If rules are meant to be broken, why can’t societal constructs? There is no need for us to allow the concept of “women are inferior” to continue. We all have aspirations, now it is up to us to achieve them. It is up to us to define ourselves in our own words. It is our responsibility to change the meaning of being “woman” in society so that elementary school girls, college students, women starting their occupations in the corporate world, and all future generations of girls know that we can be on the same level as men in every aspect. There should be no difference in gender and we must work to eliminate gender discrimination. It is hypocritical to place women’s beauty as qualification to be successful in the future, when all it takes is power and capability for men to be deemed victorious.
We must attempt to prevent the fueling of male chauvinism. Such childish jokes about women should be stopped and called out. These only support the subordination of women and label women as subservient. It is our job to break down the glass ceiling that is in reality a bunch of males trying to run the system in their favor. Yes, women have a lot of progress to continue making a cultural shift, however, as Catherine Pulsifer says: “No action, no change. Limited action, limited change. Lots of action – Change occurs.”
Women have the capability to make this change, we just have to start acting.
Malika is a freshman in college and an intern at MissRepresentation.org
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