Calling All Female Leaders

How many women leaders do you notice in your office? Or department? Or organization?

While the gap between men and women in leadership positions is becoming smaller, the potential for women in executive positions still needs work.

According to a study conducted in 2011, women don’t even bother applying for senior leadership positions because of the lack of other female role models in that capacity. This hesitation comes from women in leadership positions having to pave their own way in a corporate world. It’s intimidating, and for most women, not worth the effort.

This doesn’t mean that women aren’t joining the workforce, because they are. 76% of all American women aged 25-54 are in the workforce. What this means is that women aren’t taking leadership positions. Why? While most would {incorrectly} assume, it’s not because they are leaving jobs to start families. Most women in the workforce aren’t presented with growth opportunities and are moving to different companies or other divisions. We need more women in corporate, leadership roles to be a model and a mentor to those women looking to grow in their career. We need more women in government capacities showing newer feds how women can take a seat at the same table that men do.

It’s not institutional instruction that women can’t be hired, it’s organizational culture. Studies show that women usually rate themselves as less competent than they really are, and men rate themselves as more competent than they really are. We need women to be more confident in their skills and abilities when it comes to leadership. Some women are just as capable as some men in leading an organization, but their confidence obscured by their hesitance to take a seat at the table.

As government and federal entities, we need to ask ourselves two questions. How do we create an environment where:

1.) We think of men and women as “us” instead of as “them,” and

2.) Women want to lead and have the opportunity to do so?

Excitingly enough, the federal government has quite a few women in SES positions. We need to look to these women as examples and know that leadership potential is possible. Not to mention, the President just passed the Federal Employee Paid Leave Act in which feds get 12 weeks of paid maternity or paternity leave. The federal government is taking the steps that it needs to in order to show support and encouragement for women who want to stay and succeed in their workforce.

As a government employee, we need to take charge in creating organizational change within our companies and commands. Implementing new rules and regulations won’t make a difference; we need to change the way people view women in leadership positions. We need to encourage women to raise their hand for new and better opportunities. Whether women want to become mothers or become CEOs, we are living in a time where we can actually choose between the two or even choose both! Raise your hand and don’t be afraid to take an opportunity; it’s out there waiting to be seized.

Alura Romero is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a recent University of Florida undergrad who’s currently studying towards a Master’s Degree in Communication at West Virginia University. She works in the Public Affairs Office at the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC) in Washington, D.C. where she leads outreach events for ship commissionings and Navy Weeks. In the past she’s interned for PR companies in the private sector in both Florida and Virginia. Before starting her government career she was an Ombudsman for Naval Air Station Oceana where she represented the command and the spouses at the command. She lives with her husband, cat and two dogs in Alexandria, VA.

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