In recent decades, women have made great strides in the professional realm. However, there is still a disparity between the number of men and women in leadership positions in Australian businesses across all sectors. According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics, in 2013-14, women held just 26 percent of key management roles and 17 percent of CEO jobs as opposed to men. This is highly unsettling, as women make up 46 percent of the workforce.
While some of this difference may be due to women forgoing their careers to raise children, a bigger problem is the lack of support and guidance women receive when they do want to take on larger roles at work. In an effort to combat this, a number of female-only professional development programs have been established and they offer significant benefits over their mixed-gender counterparts.
Different Learning Styles
In general, men’s and women’s brains work differently when it comes to how they learn. While men thrive on competition and individual efforts, women are wired to learn better through a collaborative approach that emphasises teamwork and peer-to-peer learning. In a traditional professional development program, the approach is geared more towards men, and does not take into account women’s educational needs. Women-only programs, on the other hand, are designed specifically with women in mind, giving them greater opportunities to learn and succeed.
Different Life and Career Goals
When compared to men, women tend to be more concerned about work/life balance, particularly while raising a young family. Many women wish to embrace flexibility options in their jobs, but worry about the possible detriments to their career paths. While this topic is not often addressed in mixed-gender leadership development programs, it is a core component of many female-only programs. Having specific guidance in this area can greatly help women when it comes to re-entering the workforce after parental leave or striving to climb the corporate ladder while still maintaining time for family and personal pursuits.
While men are not often encouraged to share their feelings and emotions, this is something that comes naturally to most women. In a male-centric environment, showing emotion can often be seen as a weakness, especially in the workplace. With female-only programs, women are encouraged to share their feelings and receive the benefit of a supportive environment. Because of this, women in these programs are more comfortable discussing the issues that they face at work and get constructive feedback that is specific to their situation. This helps them develop the self-confidence and assuredness it takes to succeed in a male-dominated workforce.
It is difficult for men to understand the changes that women go through in the workplace, since men have never experienced it for themselves and may have a harder time understanding their point of view. In a professional development program that is focused on women, female attendees receive personalised attention from female mentors who have made their way through to executive roles. These shared experience and mentorship opportunities are invaluable for women in the workforce as it gives them first-hand guidance on how best to navigate a business world that is much more hospitable for men than it is for women.
At behind closed doors we specialise in helping women succeed in their careers and in entrepreneurship. Through our networking and mentorship opportunities, women are connected with other professional women who can coach and guide them on how best to tackle the issues that they face. Our main focus is on giving women the support and encouragement that they need to build their confidence and to help them achieve their career goals.
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