75% of the Nonprofit Resources staff are female, so it may come as a shock that in the nonprofit sector only 45% of top positions in nonprofits are made up of women; especially when women now make up 75% of the labor force. In an industry focused on empathy and communication, one might think the opposite to be true. Female leaders were found to be more empathetic and stronger in interpersonal skills than their male counterparts according to a study by a top consulting firm.
“As reported by the Harvard Business Review, “While the differences were not huge, women scored at a statistically significantly higher level than men on the vast majority of leadership competencies we measured.”. When surveyed, women are perceived by their managers — particularly their male managers — to be slightly more effective than men at every level and in every functional area of an organization.”
So, what can we as an industry, society, or as individuals do to create more opportunities for women in positions of power in a male populated industry?
- Don’t let stereotypes & unconscious biases get to you: When women lead, their traits are often perceived in a negative way. Assertiveness is perceived as bossiness, and passion & empathy as getting “worked up.” It is important to look past these comments and continue to lead with confidence.
- Find your network: Women are stronger together. Find a network of women who support your goals.
- Set the stage: Sometimes when you’re the only woman on the team, there are times when the men plan innocuous after-hours meetings that skew in a way that alienates other members of the team. Instead, set the stage; create the next situation and include everyone.
- Don’t be afraid to fail: Failure isn’t negative. It’s an opportunity to learn, grow, and push boundaries that ultimately lead to success. Take a chance and fail. Try again and fail better, smarter, and faster.