"Women and Influence: Aside from a few unpleasant truths, the fight for new generations of women in power has begun"
In the last few months, the collective awareness triggered by the media circus of the #MeToo and #BalanceTonPorc movements, open editorials, testimonials, and discourse seemed to have dramatically and irreversibly swung a large section of opinion. Emmanuel Macron has made gender equality a great national cause, naming a Secretary of Equality as a government spokesperson. Proof that before gender equality can really be addressed, it requires political commitment.
But outside of political spheres, is this social revolution really poised to become reality? What exactly is the situation of all the women in positions of authority, managing large groups, managing communications, running their own business, and even working in political offices and major institutional bodies?
The figures are speak for themselves. There are still very few women in positions of power. We review their experiences, to prove that there are still many obstacles and barriers to overcome to enter influential positions.
We interviewed some influential women and their stories leave no room for any doubt. The dawning cultural battle is still in its early days and the gap between communication and real life is still very visible in French society.
All through their careers, these women successfully demonstrated and asserted their skills and legitimacy. However, four common factors established them in positions of power: their education, company dynamism, career management and influence networks. It is obvious that each of these factors contributes to shaping the character, interpersonal skills, ambitions and aspirations of women to communicate their leadership to upcoming generations.
Yes, over and over again school and family play an important role in women’s perception of freedom and independence. What is more, in childhood, the role of women and men has a vital impact on the representation of the women and men relationship in society.
According to our interviews, the business environment definitely plays a major role in creating stereotypes. It also tends to perpetuate them in the way it is organized, from recruitment to management. And in spheres of power dominated by man, everyday sexism is still prevalent.
Our study also shows that guilt is the primary anthropological factor likely to inhibit women from seeking positions of power. Although, we see an increasing recognition of women’s skills, frequently the criteria used to judge their value in the workplace are not the same as those applied to men. Instead, their work is viewed through a deeply anchored sociological lens.
The current movement should not disregard the influence of women’s networks in favoring leadership. However, their real influence seems to be debatable among influential women. Despite the dramatic rise in the number of these networks in recent years, the women we interviewed agreed that they needed a variety of professional networks for them to be effective.
The “8 disturbing truths” we identified reflect the viewpoints of the women we interviewed and against whom some have fought to fulfil the responsibilities they are charged with today. They reflect the importance of uniting men and women in a fight to change mentalities in society and building a new model of society beyond gender equality. The cultural battle we have yet to wage represents a considerable generational challenge and it will be decisive for any women about to enter the job market.