There’s a very simple reason why women are underrepresented
in business and I don’t hear it talked about very much.
Here’s my logic:
-Baby male executives don’t look like senior male executives. There’s only been one person I worked with (at Woolworths) and thought “gee that guy is really going somewhere “and that person is Richard Umbers who is now the CEO of retailer Myer but he’s a freak. But seriously, look around at the 25 year old guys in your office and try to see them on the front cover of AFR. It’s a stretch because they are young and immature and unprofessional and not necessarily people you want to follow. They are little acorns who don’t look remotely like oak trees.
-Baby female executives will never grow up to be senior male executives. That seems pretty logical but it’s from this that you start to see the disconnect.
-Baby female executives don’t see people who look like them on the cover of AFR or in the company Board meetings. The few women they do see are different from them as well as they have become hardened hybrids in order to survive in male-dominated environments. Baby female executives begin to question “do I want to become one of those hardy business women?”” “do I have what it takes and even if I do, I will never be one of those big, male oak trees so what’s the point?””
I’ve only had one person see potential in me and she happens to be a very successful business leader who basically said that I reminded her of herself at the same age. She saw my immaturity and lack of professionalism and Nike sneakers and prescribed another 10 years of solid business in good, fertile soil. I’m still an acorn (well maybe a seedling) and I need more time to grow and be pruned in the right conditions. That’s the boring reality of oak tree propagation and I think too many woman give up and stop growing.
So what’s the answer? Stop dismissing the acorns and pulling out the seedlings and be wise enough to fertilise and prune the baby trees and you will get a harvest. Embrace your seedling-ness and be OK that you're not a tree yet but you have the potential packed into your little acorn.