The Shriver Report – Debunking 6 Myths Women Face in the Workplace

Special Edition

Debunking 6 Myths Women Face in the Workplace

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We are at a wonderful tipping point for women.  While there is more progress to be made for women in the C-suites, boardrooms and wage gaps, my goal is to change the dialogue.

Let’s debunk the myths that still exist and replace them with the truth that celebrates the progress that women have made, and continue to make.  In creating lives of success and significance, women are blazing new paths and becoming great role models for the women who follow them.

Myth #1: Women can’t win in a man’s world.

Fact: Business was very competitive and dog-eat-dog during the Industrial Age.  We have now passed through the Information Age into what I call today’s Communication Age when the future of business will be based on collaboration, win-win strategies and strategic alliances.  The rules have changed and women, who are natural collaborators, will excel.

Myth #2: Women aren’t tough enough to be effective leaders.

Fact:  Dictatorial Leadership is old school.  Today’s effective leaders, while able to make the tough calls, create environments of collaborative participatory leadership.  Having women in leadership positions is essential to create sustainable economic growth, global competitiveness and innovation.

Myth #3: Women-led companies aren’t good investments.

Fact: Venture capital firms that invest in women-led companies outperform those that don’t, according to research from the Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy. According to Indiegogo, 47% of projects that reach their funding goal are female-led.

The 2013 “State of Women-Owned Businesses Report,” commissioned by American Express OPEN revealed: “The number of women-owned and equally owned firms is nearly 13.6 million and they:

  • Generate more than $2.7 trillion in revenues,
  • Employ nearly 15.9 million people,
  • Represent 46 percent of U.S. firms.”

Myth #4: There aren’t enough women on boards because they lack the experience needed.

Fact:study by the Credit Suisse Research Institute, found that over six years the share price of companies with at least one woman on the board outperformed companies with no women on their boards by 26%. (2,360 public companies were studied). According to a study by Catalyst, companies with the highest percentages of women board directors outperformed those with the least number of women by 66 percent on average.

Myth #5: In spite of all the equality talk, most people still believe that men should be the primary breadwinners, and women should shoulder the bulk of the responsibility at home.

Fact: While 74%of men agreed with this statement in 1977, only 42% said it in 2008. (Only 39% of women agreed.)  For the first time since questions about responsibility in the workplace had been asked, women and men under 29 years old did not differ in their desire for jobs with more responsibility. (Source: Times Are Changing: Gender and Generation at Work and at Home; Families & Work Institutes, The 2008 National Study of the Changing Workforce.)

Myth #6: To get ahead, women just need to keep their heads down, work harder and smarter.

Fact: According the research done at Montana State University, women have been taught to feel uncomfortable touting their accomplishments themselves because they’ve been socialized to be modest, humble and “act like ladies.”  They are much more comfortable touting the talents of a female colleague than they are for themselves.

Therefore women need to play to their strengths, join together, support each other and tout each other’s strengths.

While there is still work to be done, there is much to celebrate as women make their mark in business and the economy.  It is time to acknowledge these wins and focus on the positive direction women are heading so that we can continue to build on this positive momentum.  


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Sharon Lechter is a Reporter for The Shriver Report.
Sharon Lechter is an author, CPA, the founder/CEO of Pay Your Family First and a publishing powerhouse.
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