The theme of this year's International Women's Day is #PressforProgress, and all around me I see Canadian charities that are fighting for women's rights.
For women in particular, we know we have a different challenge than men when it comes to getting to that often desired executive position in the workplace. If we're going to reach that summit, we may need to look for a boost, or be the ones doing the elevating.
If you're a young woman just beginning her career, unfortunately there is no blueprint for success. No set of rules or guidelines to follow, no guarantee of "having it all." The truth is we all work at different companies and in different industries, report to different leaders, face different challenges and, most importantly, want different things.
Today women are starting businesses at a blistering pace with survival rates higher than men. When compared to their male counterparts, women are routinely lauded for having better team-building skills, being more intuitive and for being smarter money managers than their male counterparts. But none of this matters when you become an entrepreneur. So what does matter?
If you are a woman working in a male-dominated environment it is easy to feel like a square peg in a round hole. You need to bring your authentic self to work to feel good about yourself, but your natural approach to situations is often different than that of your male co-workers. Rest assured that fitting in and being yourself are both possible.
One study, reported in 2011, of 10,000 graduates of Wisconsin high schools found that overweight men experienced few barriers to getting hired and promoted but fat women, for a variety of reasons related to reactions to being overweight, were less likely to earn college degrees, had jobs with lower earnings, and less social status than thinner female peers. Women working in television have been required to be thin (and young and beautiful) to be hired and retain their positions. Fat females, in day to day situations, confront discrimination in many forms. A 250-pound aerobics instructor in California who was fit, had many students, and no record of performance issues was denied a Jazzercise franchise.
I was recently invited to Revolving Tables, a fundraising dinner for the Israel Cancer Research Fund, with 36 CEOs heading each table of which only around eight were women. It gave me an old school feeling, like those Mad Men days were still here.
Facebook's, Sheryl Sandberg, Yahoo!'s Marissa Mayer, Virginia Rometti, the CEO of IBM and others are proof that women can perform at the same level as male business leaders. Why are women still being treated differently in the workplace, and why do women oftentimes have lower salaries than men for similar jobs?