Why many women miss leadership roles

Why many women miss leadership roles

A significant percentage of women professionals in the social sector miss leadership opportunities because of their own self-limiting biases, says a report.

According to a recent survey by India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS) of women professionals in the social sector who have 8-15 years of experience, more than 50 per cent of the respondents felt, at times, slowed down by their own self-limiting biases.

Self-limiting biases often stem from social and cultural conditioning women experience, which can shape a sense of inferiority.

These beliefs lead to “self-limiting” behaviour that often leads to women having stereotypes about their own abilities, talents, opportunities, and goals that could end up holding back one’s career, it said.

The qualitative survey, conducted with a select group of women professionals in the social sector who have 8-15 years of experience, is not based on the sample size.

“Women constantly grapple with unique challenges on their career front, that are created by various external and internal factors and circumstances.

“It is important to build conducive pathways for more women professionals to reach leadership positions, helping them overcome their limitations and see them thrive in successful careers,” Anu Prasad, Founder & CEO of ILSS, said.The survey highlighted the prevalence of socialised beliefs such as imposter syndrome which limit one’s leadership vision, with 50 per cent of women leaders experiencing it.

This phenomenon results in a disproportionate lack of women leaders at levels of senior management, relative to the number of women in entry-to-mid level roles, it said.

The ILSS report noted that respondents feel men have clearer access to cross-sectoral networks and mentorship opportunities with senior leaders.

This has led to 84.7 per cent respondents believing that building pathways to match emerging women leaders with senior women leaders may play a crucial role in supporting their leadership journeys.

Nearly 73 per cent of emerging women leaders in the social sector also believe that continued mentorship and networking support would boost their leadership ambitions.

“These are critical support structures that all professionals need access to, to be able to accelerate their leadership journeys,” the report noted.

There has been a constant imbalance in opportunities for women versus men. Multiple factors, such as family, societal perception, lack of opportunities, and exclusion, have often prevented many women from building senior leadership careers, it said.

“The social impact space is based on ideas of equality, inclusion, and justice; therefore, the sector has a responsibility to adhere to those very values to support its people, and create supportive environments for women’s leadership journeys to thrive,” the report said.

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