There is no limit to ways in which being a woman in leadership is difficult. As far as we have come towards equality in the 21st Century, there is no doubt that there is still an enormously long road still to be traveled. Many of the obstacles for women are in fact external factors, such as male superiors who legitimately believe that women have no place in business and leadership, but perhaps the greatest number of obstacles are both internal and, sadly, from other women.
Women themselves are, at times, their own worst enemies. Women were often taught as girls that the most important quality they can possess is to be “nice” – which often means to not take any action that could potentially cause them to be thought of as “not nice” by someone else. This means that when placed in a situation where to accomplish or achieve something would require an action that may or may not be “nice” – such as having to fire an employee who was underperforming, women will often overwork themselves to pick up the slack from the underperforming employee, rather than take an action that would cause them to be viewed as “not nice.”
According to susanmcgalla.com, our own internal mechanisms are also not the only problem. As every leader knows, leadership can be a hard, lonely business. Decisions have to made that are not always popular, and plans have to be executed that will sometimes cause discomfort and even outright distress to those involved, but it needs to be done. But not all women are always comfortable in this position, and in fact many women fear it. It is misguided to believe that leadership is in reality any more comfortable for men, but it is also often expected from them at a far younger age, so many men may not feel like leadership is a choice, where for many women it may seem like it is. And there are many women who many not want that particular status quo to change. Therefore, they may actually protest and hinder the advancement of other women as a means of ensuring they themselves are never called on to step into a public and very vulnerable leadership role.
One woman who understands these dynamics very well is Pennsylvania resident Susan McGalla. Susan is an executive consultant located in Pittsburgh that is the former president of American Eagle Outfitters and former CEO of Wet Seal Inc. Born and raised in East Liverpool, Ohio, she is the sister of two brothers and the daughter of a football coach whose expectations of her were not any less because she was a girl. She was brought up to work hard and encouraged to always present her ideas with confidence regardless of who she was speaking to. This gives her a rather rare and unique perspective that allows her to mentor women who don’t know how to break out of the box of being labelled as a “woman” to merely being viewed as a professional or peer.