Paula Parfitt writes in The Guardian that she believes that the lack of role models holds back women from climbing the corporate ladder. “Senior women demonstrate that that there is no limit on what others can achieve at the company, that the business values the contributions of women and makes a powerful brand statement.” Access to women in senior leadership positions encourages high-performing individuals to aspire to further their career.
But as Lisa Miller suggests in The New York Times, finding a role model is challenging in a workforce where “older women with ambition don’t stick around.” Miller suggests that women who choose to have children and prioritize childcare face a challenging re-entry to the work force, in part due to age discrimination. By the time women reach the age of 50, they are earning 55 cents on the dollar, which is drastically below the national average. “If we want the next generation of women to be strong, assertive, and demanding in this environment, we have to give them models that show them how.”
Miller provides a glimpse at an alternative reality: “A good workplace is one in which you can look around and see versions of yourself five years from now, or 10.”
A 2015 Women’s Leadership Study from KPMG supports Miller’s vision of a more nurturing environment for women leaders. Their research found that 88% of women were inspired by seeing women in current leadership positions, and 86% of women believe that when they see more women in leadership roles, they are encouraged to reach for the same heights.
KPMG’s extensive findings point to plausible solution. “While seven in 10 women feel a personal obligation to help more women advance in the workplace, only one-third of working women have learned to leverage support of other female employees.” By training women in mentorship and creating positive avenues for female-only networking, high-achieving women gain access to the resources to support their career advancement.