Women In the Workforce: Are We Reaching Our Full Potential?


According to a recent publication from Business Journal, McKinsey & Company, Unlocking the Full Potential of Women in the US Economy, women entering the workforce account for a quarter of current GDP, yet the full potential of women in the workforce has yet to be tapped. Why don't women reach full potential?

The article by Joanna Barsh talks about different forces that tend to hold women back. At the top of the list - a "leaky" talent pipeline; meaning, at each transition up the management ranks, more women are left behind. Women continue to be taken out of the running on the assumption that they can't handle certain jobs and that they carry the bulk of family obligations on the home front. The study also found that many women hold themselves back by waiting to be asked. These entrenched beliefs are often institutional as well as individual, making it difficult to change.

How do we change these Entrenched Beliefs for ourselves? A good place to start may be in the roles we play as women. Here are a few beacons of light that made my path to success in the office and at home visible:

  • As President of TranzAct Technologies and Founder of Women and Logistics I have learned the importance of clear communication. Women in the workforce cannot fail to speak up. Being direct and assertive will create an environment for others to feel this freedom as well.
  • As a mother and wife, it has been imperative to create a home environment where family obligations are split evenly among the family members. Our family helps each other complete tasks, rather than one individual carrying the many responsibilities that come along with raising a family. Equally balanced give and take relationships have enabled me to step up on the job, as well as keep the scales in life balanced.
  • During my first years in the workforce as a staff accountant, I took on jobs when others didn't; proving my ability to handle more than what was given to me. I made recommendations before being asked, leading to my advancement into Senior Management.

Changing the embedded mindsets of institutions has to start with women taking action in the roles we play everyday. More simple suggestions have been made on Nancy Clark's blog, Women's Lunch Talk. See her blogroll for great posts such as Women Need to Ask! In today's Economy it is clear that the US must make far better use of women in the workforce. Plugging the leaks in the talent pipeline can't happen if we don't take action; so together we need to speak up! Have you run into any of these obstacles? I'd like to hear about it in the comment field below.