6 pillars to help women achieve career success

Jun 7, 2021 | Diversity

Somi Arian, founder of FemPeak, shares advice ahead of her session at this year’s Student Recruitment Conference.

Throughout history, women have been left on the sidelines of the human narrative. There have been many who have fought to change this, but the fact is that the lack of a female perspective in the top tiers of business and technology has never felt as pressing as today. 

Of course, it is worth highlighting that there are plenty of ways to define success and what that means to each person is different. For some women it might be getting to the top of the corporate ladder, while for others it could be raising a family, starting their own business, or doing something creative.

I’ve identified the following six crucial pillars that will help women achieve career success.

1. Building confidence

When it comes to self-doubt in the workplace, women seem to exhibit it a lot more than men. All our lives, as women, we’ve been taught to play by the rules and keep our heads down. From an early age, females who are assertive and speak up for themselves are viewed as unlikeable and aggressive, whereas males that exhibit these qualities are applauded for their leadership skills.

In order to gain confidence, we must push ourselves to get out of our comfort zone, learn to feel proud of ourselves, celebrate our accomplishments, and not be afraid to value ourselves and ask for what we deserve.

2. Financial skills & wealth management

It is important for everyone to possess a basic set of financial skills to navigate everyday life, but despite women normally being the primary caregivers making the day-to-day decisions about where to allocate housefunds, they seem to lack the same financial preparation as men.

Women earn less, save less, and face a greater financial risk than men in old age, and as our financial markets evolve, we as women need to secure our financial future by acquiring knowledge about resources available and skills to confidently participate in economic and entrepreneurial activities.

3. Gaining tech skills 

Getting more women into stem careers, science, technology, engineering and mathematics, has always been a difficult task. According to the National Science Foundation, computer science has one of the lowest shares of women degrees among all of the fields of science, and the number of female graduates in STEM degrees has fallen in recent years.

Women of all ages must be encouraged to take an interest in STEM careers, hone our tech skills and get into an ever growing job market that will shape the future of humanity. As women, we need to be part of this conversation.

4. Entrepreneur & leadership skills

Although as women we’ve achieved some impressive advancements in our careers, today, men still outnumber women in the top tiers of the business and technology industries. One of the reasons for this is the lack of entrepreneurship and leadership training amongst women, especially in the developing world.

These skills empower women to actively participate in supporting their households which leads to a more balanced and healthier family life. As women, we need to get out there and educate ourselves and gain entrepreneurial and leadership skills in order to address this gap in the industry and shake cultural gender stereotypes. This will translate into happier families, communities and society as a whole. 

5. Women’s health

There is a clear gender data gap in health that needs to be addressed in order for women to be able to move forward. Since most studies are conducted on a male population, there is little information on how the same illnesses interact with the female organism. Research has found that women are diagnosed later than men for diseases such as diabetes and cancer, and that more women die from heart attacks because the symptoms do not look the same.

Then, there is also the issue of conditions that are unique to women, such as endometriosis, pregnancy related problems, menopause, etc., which in a lot of cases are understudied, treatments are expensive and sometimes not covered by insurance. If we add to this the fact that women tend to live longer than men, we have higher health related expenses. This affects women’s everyday lives, not only their careers.

6. Family & relationship support

In the not so distant past, women married really young, often skipping college, and started having children right away. For centuries, traditional family roles around the world have been ‘working-dad’ and ‘stay-at-home mum’, but recent decades have seen a shift in this norm with more women joining the workforce every year. So why is family and relationship still an issue in women’s climb to leadership roles?

Because although the amount of women in the workforce has changed, the cultural family and relationship roles have not. Women are still expected to be the primary caregivers and do most of the housework. Meaning, women have two jobs now, one paid and another unpaid, which takes time away from learning, resting, and time for ourselves, putting a strain on self-growth and taking on more responsibilities in our jobs. It is time to shake up these societal constraints to have a healthier relationship and family life based on equality.

My dream is to see women become a part of the 1% in my lifetime, and I strongly believe overcoming these key factors will propel women, at a global level, to raise their socioeconomic status. I look forward to sharing more about these barriers and why we can change the narrative in my upcoming talk at the ISE’s Student Recruitment Conference

Find out more or register for ISE’s Student Recruitment Conference 2021, taking place 29 June – 1 July.

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