According to the Center for American Progress, women earn almost 60 percent of undergraduate degrees and 60 percent of all master’s degrees. They also make up 59 percent of the college-educated, entry-level workforce. However, despite these numbers, women hold only 14.6 percent of executive offices, 8.1 percent of the highest earning positions, and 4.6 percent of all Fortune 500 CEOs.
Clearly the proverbial “glass ceiling” still exists in this country, although there are ways to break through. We take a closer look at several steps you can take if you’re a woman in business who wants to move up.
Is there value in performing well in the job you were hired to do? Certainly. However to feel a real sense of achievement, take a step back and look at the big picture. Get a sense for how the dots are connected in your company and learn how each impacts the other. This will require some uncomfortable stretching – like asking to sit in meetings you never have before, or lunching with different department heads.
After each “stretch,” reflect on what you’ve learned and try applying it to your everyday tasks. The more you do, the more knowledgeable – and valuable – you become.
To get to the top it pays to know people who are already there. Senior management makes the majority of the decisions that impact the company – including which talent to develop that shows promise. Volunteer for projects that will get you noticed by the inner circle and give your all to the work. The more you shine the brighter your prospects.
While business loves to celebrate winners, it’s the failures that create winners in the first place. While something tangible is gained when you fail, such as the knowledge to change and succeed, something even more important is also gained. Knowing that you can overcome obstacles and rise up to meet challenges can give you the power to rise to the top.
Risk can be uncomfortable whether you’re female or male. However, once you navigate through a scenario, the feeling changes to confidence. In your quest to break through the glass ceiling you will need more than your share of confidence, so regularly seek out situations that have risk-reward benefits.
One of the traits most valued by upper management is the ability to take initiative. Whether it’s on a solo project or in a team situation, a “take-charge” attitude is almost always seen as a positive. Even if you’re just starting out, look for situations that let you take the ball and run. More often than not, you’ll score points.
The glass ceiling will always exist for those who are reluctant to go up against it. By following these steps, you can defy the odds and break through.