Undoubted progress has been made in the number of women who have entered the workforce over the last 40 years. Graduate recruitment into previously all-male domains has rocketed. But still we have too few women running things. In my experience of coaching professional women at various stages of their career over the last 25 years I have noticed that too many of these highly talented women internalise the challenges they face. Rather than blame a system that can’t cope with the demands of a world where work life and care-giving are becoming 24/7 requirements, women instead work harder and harder to stay on track.
How coaching can help: 1) Coaching can help younger women to identify with leadership despite an absence of suitable role models. 2) Coaching expectant and new mothers is vital to help them recognise this as a critical phase for honing their leadership skills. Delegating, decision-making, boundary management and the 20/80 rule can be learned quickly when the prize is more time with your child. 3) Coaching female leaders who find themselves in the minority helps them find strategies for being authentically themselves and yet fit in. 4) Coaching managers of women to ensure they are aware of what they can do to adapt things to encourage more women.
In all of these engagements the key is to alert women to the need to push back against a system that no longer fits their needs and to unite in doing this.