I have gathered a lot of the newest data about women in business and while there has been progress it is still slow. The current landscape shows that about:
- 4.2% of the CEO's in Fortune 500 companies are women
- 19.2% of corporate officers are women
- 25.1% of executives/senior level officials and managers are women
- 36.8% of first/mid-level officials and managers are women
- 45% of the labor force is women
These numbers (last updated December 14, 2015 at catalyst.org) have not changed radically in the past decade.
As I continued to dig deeper it seems there continues to be a double standard where women have to work harder to prove themselves and gender stereotypes still exist.
First, let's take a long tail view of where some of the communication standards for men and women began, way back to the time of hunters and gatherers.
Men were the daring ones who risked their lives to go into uncharted territory to bring home the bacon or the bear or the buffalo. This was solitary work and required silence and focus. Thus, men developed more gray matter.
Men's brains are structured to facilitate connectivity between perception and coordinated action. That means, see dinner, stalk dinner, and then kill dinner.
Women were the caring ones who tended dozens of tribal children, keeping them safe and stopping the fights. They also were the ones to gather the herbs and berries to make the meals tastier. The woman would go together, in groups, and talk and talk. This was more for survival than fun. Talking was to keep the fox and coyotes and all the other little critters at bay. So what happened to women's brains?
Female brains are designed with more white matter to facilitate communication between analytical and intuitive processes.
Knowing that was necessary thousands of years ago helps understand what is needed now.
We do not live in a tribal way anymore and going to the super market works for both genders to get the meat and the herbs. So, what changes do we need now?
Women can become more daring. This is happening in the workplace where there is the challenge to speak out and take risks. As women rise to these challenges it gives men an opportunity to become more caring. There is a huge change taking place.
Just look at CEO Mark Zuckerberg taking his infant daughter to a well-baby checkup. It's not the time of "Mad Men" anymore!
Here is the new equation: Daring + Caring = Sharing.
As we begin to restructure our relationships the words we use will change, also. Women will no longer take the back seat and will talk more directly in the workplace. The words, maybe and qualifiers like yes, but will go away. And men will become less competitive and more collaborative, and when there is conflict use sentences like "I disagree with you and let me tell you why and then I would like to hear from you."
The times, they are a'changin. And as they change, each of us can change our brains for the better.