HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016 - (Page 14)
By Candace Laing
wenty years ago, when I was working on my undergraduate business
degree, I didn't own a personal computer or cell phone, nor did I know
what email was, let alone the World Wide Web.
Today, these are things I can't function without and
remarkably, I can access all of them via a smart
phone that fits in my pocket.
It is amazing to witness these changes but there
are some things have stayed the same. In its report
Women in Senior Management: Where are They?,
the Conference Board of Canada states that the
number of women in senior leadership roles in
Canada has been stagnant for more than 20 years.
Why isn't that number changing?
For a large part of my working life I wasn't interested in gender equality issues. The "glass ceiling"
wasn't talked about much and I quietly thanked the
generation that preceded me for working through
"all that stuff." I couldn't relate to "feminists" and
it was my perception that they were hanging onto
14 Spring/Summer 2016 * www.sahrp.ca
Then two things happened. First, I had the pleasure of adding two little boys to my life. They brought
countless blessings but also an entire suite of decisions and challenges that affected my career plans.
Second, I started to take an interest in the research
and data published about women in leadership.
As a result, I've learned that some "old baggage"
and external barriers may still be in play and that
there is a new and fascinating discussion surrounding a host of internal barriers that are holding
women back. I've also become interested in the
current debate on whether it's women or organizations who bear the greatest responsibility to help
more women achieve leadership roles. In order to
understand who is responsible and what can be
done to advance women in leadership, it's helpful
to take stock of some of the challenges we face.
Super Mom has left the building
For a lot of working women, especially those
with children, "having it all" is the myth we misguidedly strive for. Attempting to be 100 per cent
in two worlds leaves us feeling like we are failing
in both, and we exhaust ourselves in the pursuit.
It's only recently that I've heard women openly
acknowledging the struggles they face in managing a full-time job and a full-time household (as
opposed to upholding the façade of super mom).
There is a growing realization that our quest is
flawed, and therefore doomed from the outset. To
make it worse, women are susceptible to judgment
from both worlds, i.e., "if I take a reduced maternity
leave, I'm not a committed mother" and "If I choose
family over work, I'm seen as someone who doesn't
have what it takes."
I can relate to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer
because while I took more than two weeks off, I
did take shorter maternity leaves than are typical.
I quickly tired of explaining myself to people who
couldn't understand why. I have reached a point
where I have accepted that it is okay to love my
family and my job. I have also accepted that there
will be tradeoffs in both worlds on any given day.
The balance between work and family is a highly
personal and individual choice. Every woman
should define success in her own terms.
One aspect for debate is whether or not organizations can ever expect to see a gender balance in
senior leadership positions. This is due to the fact
that women may elect to slow down or step away
from their careers in order to raise their family.
Perhaps, as Anne-Marie Slaughter suggests in
her TED Talk and book Unfinished Business, we
undervalue the important role of caring for our
children. On the other hand, in her TED Talk and
book Lean In, Sheryl Sandberg says that we need
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016
Letter to the Editor
From the Editor
Leadership Styles: Helping or Hindering Engagement?
Building an Accountable and Self-Directed Workforce
Is Distance Learning Meeting Your Training Needs?
Advancing Women in Leadership
Spotlight: Stan Slap – the King of Culture
Saskatchewan HR Trends Report, Spring 2016
Legal Corner: The Use of Contract Workers Can Create Hidden Liabilities for Employers
The Resource Room
HR Saskatchewan - Spring/Summer 2016