In recent years, women are entering the corporate world in larger numbers but there seems to be a problem, which holds them back from advancing their careers. The reasons are multi-dimensional; lack of mentorship and inadequate preparation for leadership roles; gender discrimination; lack of confidence and fear; stereotype syndrome; the marriage syndrome and lack of confidence.
LACK OF MENTORSHIP AND INADEQUATE PREPARATION
In Ghana getting a mentor to coach you right from your secondary or tertiary level is not readily available, probably because of the rareness of the expertise. This rareness has made most Ghanaian women in this level of their education not aware of the essence of career mentors and those who are cannot afford their to pay for their services.
Besides, most Ghanaian women spent their time majorly learning only on what is been taught in class without doing any further research on these subjects’ areas or acquiring other related skills and internship programs that can help facilitate their career path after school.
Some also focus on having fun and socializing, relying on their beauty to fit them up in the corporate world as they believe in the notion, “Give what you have to get what you want”.
So at the end of day we have women who have graduated from secondary or tertiary level with no basic knowledge of corporate working ethics or dressing code, and how to work with Microsoft suits not to talk of having a CV.
Hence most women graduate from school ill prepared for the career journey ahead
In Africa, especially Ghana, there are certain career roles that are perceived by society to be only for males. For instance; Architects, Engineers, Surgeons and Bank MDs until recently was male dominated in Ghana. This is partly due to our society setup .The older generations did their best to instill moral values in the younger ones. However, the strict method used in raising the 20th and partly 21st century generations made the next generation feel that a man’s place is in the office while a woman, the kitchen.
To make matter worse, in the Ghanaian corporate world, there have been instances where a vacancy advert only requests for male applicants to apply for roles that females can equally perform
Theories such as the trait theory of leadership also states that women lack particular masculine personality traits that would allow them to be effective leaders. The majority of women still hold the above perception, which, in turn, makes it pointless for them to see the necessity of pursuing their careers.
There have been several theories which relate to why women are held from advancing their careers in workplaces. For instance, a double-bind theory states that some business leaders claim that women are too sensitive and not strong enough to handle occupational challenges. Yet, these women are also type-casted as bossy or “bitches” if they become strong and aggressive.
THE MARRIAGE SYNDROME
The Ghanaian society is a male dominated one and to make matters worse civilization has not yet permeated wholly into the mindset of our society. Hence some men especially, are too scared to approach women who are intellectually inclined for marriage or relationships.
The issue of marriage is worse for women who have succeeded in building their careers and/or occupy positions higher or equal to their male counterparts. Most of these women are labelled as rude and considered unable to submit to partners all because their level of exposure, experience and ability will not allow their partners to down-thrown them like they want.
Some are also considered as socialists who have slept their way to top and are tagged wrongly without regarding the facts surrounding their success. Politically most women who rise to top are either accused of having slept with the “big men” for appointment.
It should be noted that most of these bad labels are not true. However, all these kinds of accusations have in the long run made most women to either shy away from managerial or political positions in their bid to secure their images, marriages or relationships
LACK OF CONFIDENCE
Due to the factors expounded above, most women have lost a high level of confidence when it comes to the issue of pursuing their careers. The confidence lost has been unfortunately replaced with a great level of fear which deters them from going out of their way to advance in the corporate environment. They rather keep to themselves and consequently remain in the lower ranks of management in their bid to be “safe”.
From the above points, it is therefore important the girl-child is mentored right from secondary or tertiary level. This mentorship should be engaging and friendly to allow mentorees express their feelings.
Gender discrimination will always be part of career advancement issues but when women are adequately mentored or prepared in their career path, their inputs to organizations within which they work will stop such discriminations.
Lastly women should be encouraged to believe in themselves and not to comprise on their education and career for marriage or society, because marriage to a large extent has nothing to do with education and society will always talk until you make a mark.