OK, it is really great that for the first time there is a female candidate for the US Presidential Election, long overdue and everyone bar middle America is in agreement that she is the best person for the job – probably by default!
But.. I am so over “glass ceilings”.
Hillary heralded her nomination victory as the “biggest crack in that glass ceiling” with a montage of the previous 44 male US presidents accompanied by the sound and vision of breaking glass.
I groaned when I saw it so my other half said (as he always says!) – “OK write a blog about it”.
Hillary went on to say “Little girls, who stayed up late to watch, I may be the first woman President but one of you is next”.
Can we please get rid of this idea of a glass ceiling now!
Personally I don’t believe in them and I never have. I think there are some professions out there, like politics, that are not conducive to women, especially women who have young families. I think it’s not the glass ceiling we need to break, but we need to re-set the foundations by looking at the rules, social norms, conventions and structures that are in place preventing talented women getting to whatever level they want to get to.
I also believe that as women we have to take some responsibility for this.
Sheryl Sandberg told a great story in her book – ‘Lean In‘. She was heavily pregnant, running late for a meeting and couldn’t find a parking space near the office, so she had to trek a long distance from the back of the car park to get to her meeting. She barged into the meeting, late, uncomfortable and probably a little cranky and asked why there weren’t any allocated parking slots nearer the office, for pregnant employees.
The answer was no one ever asked for them!
The ‘powers that be’ thought this was a great idea and very soon afterwards this policy was implemented.
If we want to get to the top – be it in our business or in our careers, I believe we, as women, need to ask for what we need or help to facilitate change – we must be proactive in resetting the foundations.
I have been working very closely with Enterprise Ireland (EI) over the past few months in my role as President of Network Ireland.
They recognise the fact that as women we need to be more assertive – but they use a much more positive word: “ambitious”.
Enterprise Ireland have put programmes in place to encourage female entrepreneurs, as they know that businesses run by women have a better chance of succeeding. Their stats prove that women are hesitant about applying for grants and supports, unless they tick every single box – whereas a male counterpart in general will go for every opportunity and worry about matching the criteria afterwards!
EI’s strategies around nurturing ambition in female entrepreneurs are working and they have seen the number of females on their programmes jump from 7% in 2011 to 22% in 2015.
We also have a responsibility to support each other.
Hillary, instead of giving the “little girls at home” a ‘call to action’ she should be looking behind her or in front of her at the podium and saying “your turn is next”. It’s the responsibility of all of us to help others up the ladder or pass the torch.
As Madeleine Albright, another US Secretary of State put it ”There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”.
Let’s hope Hillary will remember Madeleine’s wise words and has less of the breaking glass and more of the actions that really support other women to get as far as they can.
Actions speak so much louder than words or cool AV effects!
As to Hillary becoming the next President of the USA – I hope she is successful in her campaign, not because she is a woman, or the best possible candidate, but because like most people in Ireland I’m an anything but Trump girl! But that’s for another blog……
Deirdre Waldron is the founding partner of Fuzion
Fuzion are a Marketing, PR and Graphic Design firm with offices in Dublin and Cork, Ireland