Networks are of course key to success for both genders, but research by the Harvard Business Review finds that women with a close inner circle of other women are more successful, while there was no link found for men’s success in terms of the gender composition of their inner circles.
One female entrepreneur, Gesche Haas, understands that women who help other women go further. She created Dreamers//Doers, a women-only social networking platform to tap into the power of community. The community is made up largely of female entrepreneurs, and is working to level the gender playing field.
This Women’s History Month Consciously Unbiased is highlighting impact makers, such as Gesche, who are helping to advance equality. Here is her advice on how to combat gender bias and get us closer to equal.
THE BIAS: Women Must Be Nice
In traditional workplace culture, women have often been expected to help more, such as by performing office “housekeeping” tasks like getting coffee or taking notes in meetings.
BREAK IT: “Adam Grant and Sheryl Sandberg’s research found that women in the workplace help more and benefit less,” says Gesche. “Sometimes women are just expected to help, or, if they’re busy, they are called a quote/unquote b#@$!. Yet if a man is busy and can’t help, he’s just busy and important. So in terms of changing the name of the game, we changed how women succeed. [In Dreamers//Doers], women help more but also benefit much, much more.”
THE BIAS: Men Make Better Leaders
It may be 2020, but more than half of people still believe men make better political leaders and 40% believe men are the superior business executives, according to findings from the global Gender Norm Social Index.
BREAK IT: One way to break the bias surrounding what a good leader looks like is to elevate more female role models and increase their visibility.
“Oftentimes traits people describe as general leadership traits, such as competitiveness, may actually be more male specific,” says Gesche. “How I lead my own company is very different from my male counterparts. We need to really redefine leadership by allowing more women to be successful and also just visibly changing the dialogue for everyone involved. Even if women might be in the minority in terms of numbers [in leadership], giving them greater visibility—such as with thought leadership platforms like this podcast or columns in major publications or speaking opportunities—changes the landscape for those aspiring to join them.”
THE BIAS: Male Entrepreneurs Are More Worth Investing In
We still have a long way to go on the road to equality: While the rate of women-owned businesses are sky-rocketing, less than 3% of venture capital funding goes to women. Bias contributes to this barrier for funding, as does women having less access to a network of what has traditionally been mostly male investors.
BREAK IT: “It’s good for business to invest in women,” says Gesche. “In fact, research shows that for every dollar raised by a female founder, she generates 2.5 times more revenue than a male founder. Some male individuals are thought to have a stronger network of like-minded peers and mentors. Dreamers//Doers changes the game by offering women their own powerful network. Being a founder, there’s so much that you have to figure out on your own. We provide a strong community so that women don’t have to do everything on their own right.”
This Women’s History Month (and every month), remember that gender equality isn’t a female issue but everyone’s issue. Reaching equality is good for families, businesses and the world.
“Biobehavioral Responses to Stress in Females: Tend-and-Befriend, Not Fight-or-Flight;” APA Psychological Review
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