Adding Up The Numbers: Women Rising, Moving Toward Parity in Leadership

What are the odds of a woman who is only female applicant getting hired? Zero.Numbers don’t lie. And until the numbers of women rising in leadership grow to a level of parity with men in leadership, women will continue to face challenges at all levels.Fact: The numbers of women in political leadership are not a fair representation of women.For Cosmopolitan, Prachi Gupta interviewed Democratic Illinois Congresswoman Cheri Bustos on the misrepresentation of women in Congress.Gupta writes, “Women are 51 percent of the population, they make up just 19 percent of Congress, 24 percent of state legislators, and 12 percent of governors, according to the Representation 2020 Project. At the current rate of change, according to research by the Institute for Women’ Policy, political parity for women is still over a century away.”Bustos told Gupta that recruiting women to run for office is a “very different process” than for recruiting men. “Women typically, the first questions they ask is how is this going to impact my family? How do you take it, running for political office, when it is so nasty?” she explains. Women are also concerned “about whether they will be able to grasp the complexity of the issues that face our nation,” she says. “Men are typically like, ‘Can I win?’“Issues that receive the time, attention and funding from Congress also do not often reflect women’s priorities, Bustos said.“Let’s look at the fact that equal pay for equal work has not made progress. What other explanation can there be other than that there’s some sexism at play?” said Bustos, who serves as the vice chair of the DCCC’s recruitment committee and co-chair of the Red to Blue committee, an effort to put Democrats in seats currently occupied by Republicans.“Why are we not making progress on campus sexual assault? Why are we not making more progress on sexual assault in the military? These are issues that are mostly female victims that we’re talking about. Women can relate to this issue in a way that is very, very personal,” she said.This is not a uniquely American problem. According to Fortune, “Former Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard may not be in politics anymore, but she is encouraging women rising in politics to throw their hats in the ring and run for office. Gillard spoke to the Smart Women, Smart Power Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. She urged women faced with sexism to ‘call it out early’ when it happens, and if possible, ‘have others call it out.’ She said don’t wait and think that it will go away if it’s ignored.Take The Lead’s 9 Power Tools address the steps that will help women rising in leadership forge the path to parity.In a number of studies measuring hiring probabilities based on race and gender, researchers at the University of Colorado found that if you are the sole female candidate in the applicant pool, you will not be hired. To be clear, what are your chances? None.Stefanie Johnson and her co-authors write in Harvard Business Review: ”It is difficult to find studies that show subtle preferences for women over men, and for minorities over whites. But the data does support one idea: When it is apparent that an individual is female or nonwhite, they are rated worse than when their sex or race is obscured.”[bctt tweet=“We can use bias in favor of the status quo to actually change the status quo.”]According to the report:”Basically, our results suggest that we can use bias in favor of the status quo to actually change the status quo. When there was only one woman or minority candidate in a pool of four finalists, their odds of being hired were statistically zero.”The study continues, “Despite the ever-growing business case for diversity, roughly 85 percent of board members and executives are white men. This doesn’t mean that companies haven’t tried to change. Many have started investing hundreds of millions of dollars on diversity initiatives each year. But the biggest challenge seems to be figuring out how to overcome unconscious biases that get in the way of these well-intentioned programs. We recently conducted research that suggests a potential solution.”The authors add: ”It’s well known that people have a bias in favor of preserving the status quo; change is uncomfortable. So because 95 percent of CEOs are white men, the status quo bias can lead board members to unconsciously prefer to hire more white men for leadership roles.“We’ve long heard about the Hollywood disparities in gender for everything from speaking roles to director and cinematographer slots, but breaking with  history and looking to make real change is Gabrielle Carteris, an actress, who has been elected president of SAG-AFTRA. With women rising in leadership roles in Hollywood, the hope is that real change happens on and off screen.Brenda Rodriguez writes in the Los Angeles Times that this is “an historic decision that means for the first time the top three union officers are women.” Rebecca Damon is executive vice president and Jane Austin is secretary treasurer of the union of actors.Maybe we will see more female stars in big productions and more women rising as writers, directors and producers in the coming months and years.The number of women entrepreneurs in India is even smaller than in the U.S. and elsewhere. But the co- founders of Wishberry, Priyanka Agarwal and Anshulika Dubey, were determined to see success from their “rewards-only crowdfunding platform, focusing on all sectors, including film, music, theater, technology and social entrepreneurship,” according to Binjal Shah, writing in Your Story. “One of the main challenges was trying to sell the idea to investors, since crowdfunding was a fairly new industry. However, the bigger issue was facing the bias against female entrepreneurs. The founders were two women leading a tech-based company, which has so far been mostly male-dominated,” Agarwal writes.“There was this common notion across the industry that women don’t make great entrepreneurs. In fact, when we approached a famous angel network, during negotiations, the investor remarked that he should get a discounted valuation since the company was run by women,” she reveals.They were not deterred, and secured the funding for Wishberry they needed. “Wishberry presented tripled growth from 2014, all the while sustaining a 70-percent success rate.“Numbers don’t lie.