When you look back at the history of women in the workforce, it’s full of inequalities and hard to see any feminine advantage. On of the most talked about inequalities is the wage gap, which hasn’t come nearly as far as it should have in the last 100 years. According to The Canadian Encyclopedia, “Women earned 52.8% of what men earned in 1911, 58% in 1971 and 66% in 1996.”

Data compiled by Catalyst shows that in Canada women make up 47.2% of the workforce, but we hold only 35.5% of all management positions and 33.3% of all senior management positions. There’s just one female CEO on the Canadian TSX 60. Two years ago, women held 20% of board seats on Canadian Stock Index Companies, but there’s a national goal to increase this number to 30% by 2019. Women are underrepresented at every level. The numbers show progress, but they still aren’t particularly positive. But even if we still have a long way to go to achieve equality for women, this month I want to focus on the feminine advantage.

What is the feminine advantage?

If you do a google search for those words, there’s research, studies, opinions and enough statistics to make you go cross-eyed. But the bottom line is that our advantage is we’re women. We’re wired differently, so we have a different perspective. We bring similar skills applied in unique ways to the table and this complements the skills of male colleagues and associates. Defining the feminine advantage to a short list of items is nearly impossible in my view. Every woman has a different personality. She has different skills and abilities, different strengths. Our differences are our advantage, but they are many so aren’t easy to define. However, they have led to some unfortunate myths:

Women are effective leaders (sometimes more so than men) but we don’t excel exclusively in nurture-based skills as is often believed. We can absolutely be tough when it’s required.

Women in board positions can have a very positive impact on the bottom line. And having women on the board/in senior management and C-suite roles sends an important message.

Women are persistent in the face of adversity, finding ways to get around obstacles such as lack of funding. Our methods can be seen as risk averse, but a recent report from Carleton University, BMO, and The Beacon Agency shows this to be untrue.

Always be open to growth and development

We have so much to offer the world, the business community, and the people we interact with day to day. But there’s always room for improvement. According to one article, one feminine advantage women have is that we are are opportunity experts. The author said that women are “much more strategic, focused and keep their eye on the prize.” That’s high praise, don’t you think? I think included in that description we have the ability to recognize when we need to bolster our weaknesses (as long as we acknowledge them). After all, that’s part of being strategic, focused with eyes on the prize, right?

Keep an eye out for opportunities to learn new skills, strengthen existing skills and practice applying those skills even when it takes you out of your comfort zone. Whether it’s public speaking or managing a team, opportunities are out there for you to get experience that will help you achieve your goals.

You’re worth the effort and the world will benefit from what you have to offer.

*****

I hope you’ll join us this month as we explore this topic more at the end of the month at our Breakfast Mix and Mingle! And don’t miss out on annual women’s networking night with the Ottawa Senators on November 3. It’s going to be another great event with great speakers.

Karen C. Wilson, WBN President
WBN President, 2016-17
Marketing Writer at Halogen Software