Last week, I attended my sixth Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland. I attended many of the sessions in and out of the forum and there was no shortage of women's faces. But appearances can be deceptive. Many women attending did so, not as delegates but as staffers or spouses of the delegates. Sadly this year among the 2,500 delegates, only 16% were female, down from 17% in 2013 - its highest ever. Yet, despite this, there was a real feeling that it was time to get serious about ensuring that 50% of the world's population get their fair share of the world's resources.
It's up to us to inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs. So what will it take?
It’s a bit of a chicken and egg scenario, but here’s a question: Would you be more inclined to take the plunge into your own entrepreneurial adventures if a greater number of successful female entrepreneurs filled our screens and column inches?
To put it another way, does a lack of visible entrepreneurial role models clip your wings when it comes to thinking about starting your own business?
Beatrice Bartlay, founder and managing director of recruitment firm
In a shining flash of the obvious, a new study confirms what many of us already instinctively know: women and minorities continue to be under-represented on company boards due to a lack of mentors.
Researchers Michael L. McDonald of the University of Texas in San Antonio and James D. Westphal of the University of Michigan found from their descriptive sampling of large U.S. corporations, 28 percent of women and 22 percent of racial minorities contribute to the pool of candidates serving on one board.
Having a well placed, successful mentor can be the difference between
success and failure on the leadership track – but it is definitely more an art
than a science for the mentor and the mentee.
One question that male leaders love to answer is “tell us about your mentors?”
It turns out that very few men make it to the top without mentors. For women,
this experience is less consistent. This is because the “old girls club” works
more like a sewing circle than a smoke-filled room and for better or worse;
some women just don’t feel comfortable bringing up the next generation in a
deliberately helpful manner.
remarkable how easy it is for many women to second-guess themselves. They tend
to focus more on their own weaknesses than their strengths. On the other hand,
they are often quick to see others’ strengths and have a desire to support
them. So, it’s important for woman to come together to support each other
in reaching their dreams.
A Mentoring Program?
Descano, President & CEO of Citibank’s Women & Co says, “I was really
surprised by the results of a recent poll conducted on Citi’s Connect:
Professional Women’s Network on LinkedIn, which found that half of professional
women have never had a mentor – and only 1 in 4 have a mentor that they
regularly tap for career advice.
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Until 2011, women represented 3% of the Fortune 500 CEO list (now
we’re at 4% – woot!). Now, if you’re reading this and your hackles just
went up because you think thatI thinkthat women are responsible
for Self-Governing corporate cultures, that’s not at all what I’m
saying and there’s no evidence to support that position. I believe that
women in senior management are both cause and effect of more open and
innovative cultures that, as this research demonstrates, perform better.
I believe this is the dynamic behind
Women are now some of the most powerful and effective leaders in
industry and politics across the world. Their willpower, focus, strong
educations and dynamic personalities have catapulted them into
governmental and entrepreneurial top spots. Forbes Magazine and theFuture Women Leaders
blog have published their list of the most important women on the
planet; a German, a Brazilian, and three Americans are on top.
The most powerful woman in the world is unanimously the Chancellor of
Germany, Angela Merkel, who is carrying the weight and possibly the
fate of the European Union on her back.
There is a large space between having power and being powerful.
Women have historically had a love hate relationship with power.
Personally, I am one of them. In some situations in my corporate career,
I was in positions of great power but had a hard time exercising it. As
women, we have fought throughout history for our rights to be
empowered. Why then can we be so ambivalent about power when we get it?
Here’s a personal story that illustrates the point. A few years ago, my
company asked me to move to Mexico to turn the business around from our
rapid market share declines.