Empowering Women in IT - eWIT
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A HIGHER percentage of women hold managerial and executive jobs these days than they use to in the past. True, we have come a long way, but i is still not far enough.
According to a study on more than 400 executives (74% of them women), conducted by international organisational development expert Adrian Savage, a majority of those surveyed believed that different standards were used to judge the performance of women and minorities.  They also felt that the glass ceiling seriously hampered their career advancement potential as compared to their male counterparts with similar qualifications and experience.

Even in a seemingly technologically advanced, liberated and forward thinking country like the US, only 5 percent of all senior manager positions are filled by women.  What's more, the remuneration of female managers is a mere 68 percent of what their male counterparts earn on an average.

Lack of pay parity along with the omnipresent glass ceiling continues to impede the career advancement and success of women in business.

But, women have their own special strengths and abilities that can, with a little planning and strategising, help them come out on top even in fields that are typically seen as male bastions. Here are a few strategies women should consider to garner maximum leverage from their career paths:

Education and training

Education is, by far, women's most powerful secret weapon. The best hope to crash through that glass ceiling is to get the finest possible foundation for a successful career in the form of education and training. Consider informal ways of educating yourself through, for example, joining professional organisations, attending conferences and keeping up with trade publications in your field.

When seeking a job too, look for companies that offer training programmes and professional development opportunities.  At the time of interview, make it a point to ask what kind of training is available. Your goal should be to develop a set of transferable skills that can be applied to various career fields.

Don't shy away from competition

Ambition isn't a dirty word. It is perfectly okay to be ambitious, to want to be know beyond the confines of family and friends.  Many a time, it is the social framework rather than the company that hinders career progress of women. Women are more reluctant than men to put themselves forward as competitors. Further, they are more likely to sacrifice their careers or leave the corporate world entirely for the sake of family. Politics and power struggles are part of the corporate world; you have to steel yourself to play the game if you want to climb up the slippery path to success. Volunteer to take up challenging assignments and projects. Volunteering is a way to promote your career and demonstrate your value while expanding your knowledge in critical areas of your company.

Plan your career

Career planning is important for everyone, more so far women because they generally have to overcome more number of hurdles and speed breakers along the road to career success compared to men. Having a clear road map and unambiguous long-term goals makes it easier for you to focus on your career path in the long run. Decide where you want to be five, 10 and 15 years from now. Build flexibility into your career plans to allow for changing circumstances. Your plan may need modification to accommodate major challenges that life may throw at you. But, your core plan should equip you for such contingencies.

Network

While women tend to network well socially, in the business sense, they seem to lag a tad behind men. In fact, a survey that studied the networking propensities of both men and women found out that women were more likely to network with people both at lower levels than themselves, as well as those at the higher echelons. Men tended to focus on people with power and influence. Women traditionally tend to be pre-occupied with home and family one they are outside office, while men have the old-boys' network that helps them clinch business deals.

Women have to become as comfortable as men discussing business outside the office and nurture a network that can help them get ahead in their careers.

Find a mentor

If you are not keen on networking, at least find yourself a mentor! Mentors can both protect women from discrimination and also be great sources of information and career guidance on how to navigate their way past obstacles to career success.

Practice Self-promotion

Women are generally team players and often fight shy of self-promotion. Modesty has traditionally been seen as a virtue and it is not easy to unlearn what was drilled into them at an early age and change their roles at work. As a result, women are relatively less aggressive at workplace about promoting themselves.
They often prefer to wait for recognition and opportunities to arrive of their own accord, rather than doing something about it. However, recognition does not come easily unless you turn the spotlight on your true worth. You need to toot your own horn because nobody else may do it for you. Make sure people within and outside your workplace know about your accomplishments. Remember, if no one knows how great you are, you simply won't get ahead.

No matter what their career aspirations, women are capable of busting every last male sanctuary achieving dizzy heights of success and glory through sheer talent, hard work and determination.

As the cliche goes, the bad news is that women have to work twice as hard to prove themselves on par with men; the good news however is that you don't have to work too hard!

BINDU SHRIDHAR
faqs@cnkonline.com

Courtesy : The Hindu

 
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