Engendering a culture of professional development

Gender equality could take up to 100 years in the UK’s largest companies, your CEO is more likely to be named Stephen than a woman. Since 2009, women’s tech roles have remained at 16% and 35% of females are STEM students.  Furthermore, 78% of pupils can’t name a renowned tech woman and while we’ve made progress, we’re still light years from implementing gender equality. Young people are tech-savvy, social justice activists with progressive gender attitudes. They remain conditioned by traditional perceptions and preconceptions of women’s careers. Consider today’s students. The number of female STEM graduates has stabilized, while the fraction studying math continues to decline. Ask kids to sketch firefighters, surgeons, and pilots. Men dominate. 5-7-year-olds develop gender stereotypes. It has been said that caution affects women’s careers as women don’t often ask for promotions, raises, or career-advancing opportunities enough. Given that these behaviors aren’t normalized, we must recognize the detrimental influence our own unconscious prejudice can have. We can all be guilty of propagating a safety-first mentality that limits ambition and stifles potential. We’ve all left a meeting hearing comments about a woman’s ambition and pushiness, whereas men’s behavior is assumed. While firm programs and board mandates are vital, everyday gender-related behaviors, views, and attitudes are just as significant. Internal policies and quotas might struggle without modifying cultural norms. When we discuss a lot about structural issues women confront on International Women’s Day. Let’s look beyond the headlines and at how we might inspire each other to reject the status quo in personal and professional interactions.

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