28 July, 2020: #1 - The six stages of the female career

Work-Life Harmony Series

Session 1

This webinar was an interactive session jam-packed with valuable insights relevant across all genders, ages and career phases. A recording of this session is available upon request.

This is the first session of the work-life harmony series where Melany Green took us through:

(i) the latest global statistics of women in leadership roles, STEM* careers and work in general;

(ii) the challenges that women face in their careers;

(iii) the six stages of the female career and;

(iv) practical tips for the female career in a post-Covid world. 

It is not all bleak and the manner in which women-led countries have managed the Covid pandemic is an example of this. One of our favourite statements made by Melany about the women leaders of our age is that, ”The idea of strength as a leader, and the idea of empathy and being decisive can live in the same body.” It is also clear from the stats that we still have a long way to go (if you listen to the webinar you’ll realise why the “we” in that statement should include men as our allies).

Here are some stark realities that Melany shared with us:

  • Although there have been leaps for women in work and leadership positions throughout history, it’s sadly not surprising that the stats take a plunge in management and upper management leadership positions.
  • According to the World Energy Forum (2019), women in STEM in South Africa only make up 23% of the population.
  • 70% of women with engineering degrees in South Africa leave the sector according to an article by Anja van den Berg (2019).

What boggles the mind even more is that there is already research showing the economic benefits of diversity within organisations. A BBC News article dated 27 July 2020 reported based on a study called Women Count 2020 that London-listed companies with a 30% minimum of women in executive roles showed up to 15.7% higher net profit. There are probably a number of complex factors related to this increase but the point is that having more women in decision-making roles doesn’t just leave us feeling good, it makes economic sense.
So the burning question that we were encouraged to think about throughout this webinar session was, “What is the problem and what do we have to do?”

Here are some of the main complex challenges that women face as highlighted by Melany (in no particular order):
• Social/cultural pressures
• Domestic overload
• Lack of real role models
• Self-limiting beliefs
• Lack of sponsors
• Unconscious bias

Watch the webinar to see the survey of the most prevalent challenges according to our attendees. This session covered such a great detail of helpful information, that it could be summarized in a chapter. Our best advice is to watch the webinar.

In conclusion, here are our 3 favourite takeaways:

  • There are typically three main focus areas for a person’s career, namely challenge, authenticity and balance.
  • There are also clear differences in the way that men and women approach their career trajectories, women tend to follow a Kaleidoscope Career Model and not the traditional linear path. This means that a woman will typically never have a singular focus at any one point of her career.
  • The journey of your career is as long as you would like for it to last (clearly evident from the 6 phases of the career).

If you would like to look up some of the references from Melany’s webinar, here they are:

  • McKinsey & Company, 2019, Women in the Workplace
  • Sheryl Sandberg, 2010, Why we have too few women leaders (TEDWomen)
  • World Economic Forum, 2019, Global Gender Gap Report 2020
  • Anja van den Berg, 2019, Why do 70% of women with engineering degrees leave the sector?, Published by Solidarity, 14 January
  • BBC News, 2020, Firms with more female executives 'perform better', Published by BBC News Business, 27 July
  • Mainiero and Sullivan, 2006, The Kaleidoscope Career Model
  • Amy Cuddy, 2012, Your body language may shape who you are (TEDGlobal)

*STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math


Melany Green