Recently I was scanning the newspaper. One of the headlines jumped out at me “Women doctors paid less than male counterparts: On average make $12,000 less per year—why the disparity?” After reading the article many of my gut feelings were confirmed.
Women have overtaken men in the number of college and graduate school graduates but they still lag behind in compensation and leadership roles—why? I think many would still argue that it is because women choose to take time off to raise families and choose career paths that do not end up in the boardroom. If it is about choice then I do not think there is a problem. I just do not think that it is always about choice and the studies support my conclusion.
If you control for families and only compare men and a women with the exact same job with the same experience and education you still find significant disparity. I think it boils down to men are much better than women at self-promotion and are more aggressive in seizing opportunities. Girls are taught from an early age to be consensus builders and focus on the team. These are important characteristics but they often leave women unrecognized for individual achievements and overlooked when it comes time for promotion and money.
To equal out the disparity women need to learn how to be recognized. This includes learning how to promote their accomplishments, push themselves to take risks, and learn as much as they can about the “big picture.” I believe that strong mentorship of females is a crucial step in assisting women to develop and achieve equality in the workplace. I owe much of my current success to an individual who opened doors for me to go outside my comfort zone, made sure I was recognized for my successes, and taught me much about the big picture. I have been very lucky in having this mentor and others throughout my career. It was not all luck though; I took ownership of seeking out this mentor and others. We as women in leadership positions have to take on the responsibility to mentor others as well as teach women that they have a responsibility to find and develop these mentoring relationships.