The number of young businesswomen gaining top leadership roles is increasing. But there is still a long way to go. In 2021, women accounted for 37.7 percent of all FTSE 100 directorship roles, but only 13.7 percent of executive directorship roles. In fact, taking in a selection of leadership positions in a range of sectors into account, women are outnumbered two to one.
The fact is that girls tend to perform better than boys in the classroom, but then lose out to them in the workplace. So what needs to change in the education system to prepare girls for these roles and to level up the playing field in the world of work? This article explores this concept so keep reading for some suggestions about what we can do better.
In general, men are far more confident about asking for pay rises and promotions than women. Many surveys have shown that a large number of women feel underpaid but, similarly, a significant proportion had never actually asked for a pay rise.
Many commentators attribute this to a lack of confidence in women’s own abilities. They suggest that women are more willing to accept the company’s valuation of their worth whilst men will look to negotiate upwards without waiting for their worth to be recognised.
There are many exercises educators could suggest to women who want to appear more confident in the workplace, all of which will help with asking for a promotion and with standing out as a self-starter within the organisation.
From working on body language to engaging a confidence buddy to help with motivation ahead of a negotiation, this is a key area to work on.
However, it is not just having the confidence to demand your worth that is important. The education system could also prepare women for the negotiations themselves
This could be a relatively easy win for educators. Implementing practical lessons on how to negotiate and present yourself in discussions would help girls in their journey to be the next top young businesswomen.
Roleplaying negotiations would help female workers understand what to expect and help them understand the importance of promoting their own cause in the workplace.
Of course, the onus should not rest solely on young businesswomen to level up the workplace. From an early age, it is important that we implement anti-bias education. This aims to help people to recognise and challenge bias against any group, including women.
When more young adults understand the nature of implicit bias, they will be more alert to it in their daily lives and more willing to take steps to eradicate it.
There are many biases that continue to flourish in the business world. Relating to women, they include the language used to describe people of different genders for the same behaviour. For example, a man might be seen as ‘driven’, but a woman with similar qualities might be described as ‘pushy’. Anti-bias education helps children to notice these discrepancies and to work to change them.
Sometimes the biases are based on expectations and women can sometimes shy away from forging a business career because they don’t believe it is the sort of career path they can or should follow. You can also challenge this through anti-bias training in education.
Set Up Continuous Learning
The job market is developing at a faster rate than ever before. In 2016, the World Economic Forum suggested that 65% of children starting primary school that year would end up in jobs that didn’t yet exist. It is no longer enough to prepare children for a labour market that exists currently as the rate of innovation means that information will be out of date by the time the pupil gets there.
Instead, we must instil a cycle of continuous learning in the children of today. They don’t just learn a trade and stick with it until retirement. Instead, tomorrow’s young businesswomen must be prepared to learn and relearn in a cycle that sees them develop with the world of employment and the new opportunities that continue to arrive.
It is a mindset shift from one or two generations previously, and an important one to concentrate on when considering how to prepare future generations of high-flying employees.
Teaching Soft Skills
Following on from the previous point, as it is difficult to pinpoint which jobs will be on the market in the future and we will expect workers to be more flexible and adaptable, it is less important that they learn rigid, industry-specific information. Instead, soft skills are key to allowing the workers of tomorrow to offer the most value to their potential employers. These are skills that are applicable across a range of sectors.
Examples of soft skills include motivation, communication, confidence, time-keeping, teamwork and problem-solving. The idea is that if future employees can master these attributes, they can fit into any industry and pick up the hard skills as they go.
In a world where the future is unclear and where the jobs market is constantly shifting, education must find the elements that it can control. These soft skills will always be in demand, no matter what job the candidate eventually goes for. We are looking towards flexibility and transferable skills being the most prized attributes of all on school leavers’ CVs.
How We Help You Help Young Business Women
It is our mission to help develop the next generation of women in the workplace and to level up the labour environment. This is why we go into places of education and run sessions with young women, focusing on employability and developing the soft skills that will be necessary for them to learn.
Up to 30 young women can take part in each programme, comprising five 90-minute sessions and one full-day finale. They are fun, dynamic and interactive and lead up to the girls presenting in front of a panel of professionals.
Why not sponsor a school programme and help to develop young businesswomen for your company? Read more details on the dedicated page.