Women and Leadership – Understanding Barrier Bias

By November 3, 2021 General
Women and Leadership - Understanding Barrier Bias

Carole Christ is an avid fan of small business ventures that have a significant societal impact, and she is very honest about her passion in her support of females and leadership positions. Today, however, we are going to focus on something called barrier bias and how it impacts women in the labor force.

Women and Leadership – Understanding Barrier Bias

What is Barrier Bias?

When we talk about barrier bias, we are talking about a bias that serves as a barrier between one thing and another. In the case of women and leadership, we are talking about barriers that serve as obstacles preventing women from advancing into positions of power and or leadership when it comes to business.

It is surprising that in today’s day and age that women still struggle to hold positions of power, but there remain at least four major barriers that come into play – structural barriers, individual mindsets, institutional mindsets, and lifestyle choices.

Structural Barriers

Structural barriers are actual barriers that interfere with a woman’s ability to advance in her career. Most commonly, this includes things like “boys club” activities like golfing. Many businessmen conduct business meetings or gatherings in settings that are not “female-friendly.” On one hand, male counterparts assume that female co-workers do not want to take part in this type of “male activity,” others assert that this is a “male environment” and that women should not be encouraged to participate.

In both of these situations, female employees and executives are being prevented from advancing in their careers because they are not men. This situation can be remedied by more people standing up and speaking out about inclusivity and making the effort to conduct business in a more inclusive setting.

Individual Mindsets

Individual mindsets also play a significant role in keeping women from positions of leadership. This is the situation when women allow their personal mindset to get in the way of their own success. This mindset can be thoughts or behaviors, for example, a woman may have the mindset that women are “supposed to” have a family and not be career oriented. This can deter a woman from pursuing an executive position that she aspires to.

Institutional Mindsets

Institutional mindsets can also get in the way of a woman advancing in her career. For example, a woman may aspire to climbing the ranks in a more male-oriented industry, but since it is a male-oriented industry, they meet additional challenges from others who discourage her because “women can’t do that.”

Lifestyle Choices

Lastly, lifestyle choices can also create a barrier that women have to overcome when attempting to further their career and take on roles in executive positions. For example, maintaining a work life balance is hard as is, but when you add in trying to maintain that balance whilst also fighting against the odds to work in a position of power – things just get even harder. 

How Can We Help Women to Achieve Positions of Power?

The big question for advocates like Carole Crist is, what can be done to help more women to overcome these obstacles and achieve positions of power? One important way to do this is to encourage more investors to invest in female owned businesses. By encouraging more investors to take a chance on female owned businesses, not only are more female owned fledgeling businesses going to thrive, but more attention will be drawn to the stereotypes and mindsets that are impeding the process of successful women in industry.

Another way that we can encourage women in business is to provide strong role models for women as women. 

According to Dr. Shawn Andrews article “Gender Barriers and Solutions to Leadership” – 

“At Fortune 500 companies, however, women hold only 19 percent of board seats and 15 percent of executive officer positions, and the number of female CEOs at these companies is a paltry four percent. Four percent of 500 companies equals 20 female CEOs, with male CEOs running the remaining 480 companies.”

Women who are in positions of power and who have been given the opportunity to succeed, have an obligation to women who are still struggling to succeed in overcoming barriers in business, to help them to achieve success. This does not mean that women in positions of power must hand success to other women, but it does mean that they should be supportive and willing to take a chance and exercise their influence when they encounter a qualified candidate or a promising investment opportunity.

It also goes a long way for everyone in positions of power and influence to recognize and speak out against stereotypes and barriers that exist at an institutional level. Only when those who hold the power of influence speak out, can change begin to take place.

Are You Interested in Learning More About Impact Investing and Empowering Women in Business?

If you are interested in learning more about how you can empower women in business and how you can become involved in impact investing, Carole Crist can help to guide you through the process! To contact Carole, scroll to the bottom of Carole Crist’s website and use the contact form at the bottom of the page!