Believe it or not, at this day and age women still battle gender-based stereotyping. In media and pop culture, women are often portrayed as ineffective leaders—a stereotype seldom questioned or challenged.
Here we debunk some of the most prevalent myths about women in the workplace.
MYTH: Motherhood diminishes ambition.
Many say that women don’t move up the corporate ladder because they would rather give more time for their loved ones. Some women leave the workforce to focus on their families, and this gives the notion that motherhood diminishes career ambition.
However, Accenture research shows that working mothers are equally ambitious as women without children. About 70 percent of working moms aspire for senior leadership, just as likely as the 67 percent of women without children who also want to become leaders.
It is imperative for any organization to have a culture of equality and a supportive workplace environment that helps everyone —regardless of gender— advance to higher positions. This culture is a powerful multiplier of innovation and growth. Having a culture of equality (measured by the 40 specific workplace factors Accenture research identified last year) means not just doing it as an ethical imperative—it’s an important business priority.
MYTH: Women are emotional creatures that crack under pressure.
In 1973, top US tennis champion Billie Jean King played a “Battle of the Sexes” tennis exhibition match against Bobby Riggs. Prior to the match, Riggs openly bragged and even bet large amounts of money on his sure win. His rhetoric raised the stakes: “I'll put Billie Jean King and all the other women's libbers back where they belong—in the kitchen and the bedroom.”
However, the female champion rose to the occasion and took the crown. Billie Jean won. “A straight-sets victory, which more than anything, dispelled myths about women as mentally frail under pressure,” wrote biographer Selena Roberts.
This is one of the many examples when women rise to the occasion, whether at home, at work or at play. When it comes to an intense or pressure-filled situation, trust that your women colleagues will be able to take up the challenge. It is important that organizations create an empowering and inclusive environment that help employees fulfill their potential.
MYTH: Mothers are the only ones who need to take time off to care for their newborn.
There’s no question that we recognize the importance of maternity leaves for mothers and their newborns. However, parenting is not just a woman’s job. Organizations should also encourage parental leaves where men can also take more time off to spend time with their baby.
On the average, 89 percent of Accenture employees across ASEAN who went on maternity leaves choose to extend their leave. It is one of the reasons why Accenture Singapore revamped its maternity and paternity benefit scheme. Now, parents with newborns are supported by the company by granting extended maternity and paternity leaves—up to 20 weeks for new moms and up to 15 days for new fathers.
The enhancement provides additional leave credits to the parents, which is more than the standard government regulations. Additionally, we’ve created a parents’ taskforce set to receive ground-up feedback on how we can make Accenture a more inclusive and supporting company for parents. This is part of our ongoing commitment to providing an inclusive workplace environment for our people in every stage of their lives.
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