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Putting More Women on the Pathway to Leadership

Despite the challenges currently facing women in the workplace, there are steps we should be taking to raise women up.

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During the first day of the Women & Worth Summit: Actions Speak Louder Than Words, one of the most popular sessions was ‘Putting More Women on the Pathway to Leadership,’ moderated by Anna Blue, the chief next gen officer at The Female Quotient. The panel featured Leona Qi, president of VistaJet US, Misty Gaither, director and global head of diversity, inclusion and belonging at Indeed, and Jasmin Allen, senior vice president of Hennessy

The panelists began by explaining what they feel are the biggest challenges women face in getting on the pathway to leadership. All panelists agreed that there are many assumptions about women’s capabilities and that decisions are often being made without them being consulted. They also mentioned that many decisions are made after the typical hours of the workday, where women are often not exposed to these conversations. Although, they did acknowledge that many of these informal interactions are not occurring as frequently with so many people now working from home due to the pandemic.

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Allen also noted that it seems like women are expected to be a certain type of “leader,” like an HR lead. Many people perceive women to be better with soft skills and not analytical or quantitative thinking. She said, “I think that’s completely remiss because women can truly do anything.” Blue also noted that those proficient in soft skills “make some of the best leaders.” As a high schooler interested in quantitative disciplines, but who also values creativity and some of the “softer skills,” this completely resonated with me. I want to have the opportunity to pursue both, so this panel affirmed that for me.

Blue then shifted the conversation to the topic of mentorship and sponsorship. The panelists echoed a similar sentiment that mentorship helps provide guidance on a personal level. Gaither noted, “Mentorship occurs organically, and it’s something that can happen at your same level.” In contrast, a sponsor is someone in a position of influence who can “help revolutionize your path,” according to Allen. All in all, they agreed that mentors help show you that “you can power forward,” as Qi had said.

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Next, they discussed the steps that can be taken to remove the roadblocks that women face. Qi said that it is important to advocate to stakeholders and decision-makers why it is important to have women in decision-making positions. She mentioned that women might have slightly different skill sets that are beneficial for the company. For example, she noted that women might be better at multitasking. And in her industry, flights are taking off and landing many times a day, so this is a valuable attribute to have in a leader.

Even as a high schooler, many of the topics discussed resonated with me. And seeing these amazing women speak on this panel was incredibly inspiring. I was particularly inspired with what Allen said about being a “first.” She said, “I wouldn’t be sitting here if there weren’t firsts, if there weren’t people who took a stand and tried to effect change…So, don’t be afraid to be that person.”

To learn more about Indeed’s Leadership Connect, click here

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