Success stories are a result of courageous decisions. Nothing beats hard work and passion when accompanied by persistence.
Women in business are making big. Many working women out there are helping in making workplaces more inclusive and collaborative. A workplace with justice for both genders creates balance and stability.
It has been a known fact that women have excelled in education, even after women education hasn’t been a priority in many households. So what made things better on the professional front? While girls have won academic battles and brought home laurels, many other characteristics helped the world believe that women in business were an essential.
The proven ability of women in being emotionally intelligent helps them to understand their team, frame strategies, and win the support of peers. The revolution for women empowerment has helped us come so forward. And to fight the odds and come out victorious has only been possible because of never-dwindling courage of women in business.
Another factor that helps women succeed on the professional front is their ability to express their thoughts in a way the listener understands. Most women are able to present their thoughts concisely given that they self-introspect a lot. This can be another attribution to their well-preparedness.
When a woman is judged of being less capable, it instills some apprehensions. For that matter, when this woman will face a big client, or deliver a deal-breaking presentation, she will be more conscious, prepare more, work harder, to prove her mettle and contribute for the company growth. Challenges make a person and someone who has dealt with them will even be more prepared.
When a woman in a family steps out to make a living, it passes on to the future generations. Statistics have revealed that women with working mothers develop confidence and job preparedness better than other women whose mothers stayed at home. While home-making is a serious business as well, for women in business, it is certainly helpful when it runs in the family. The reason is simple – such women are aware of how hectic the job can get, accept their challenges well enough, and are more aware of the accepted payroll in the industry.
In various economic sectors, women are leading. A comparison between men and women leaders will be highly skewed, but the gap is decreasing.
- Women leaders in professional, scientific, and technical services – 15.4%
- Women leaders in real estate and rental and leasing – 9.5%
- Women leaders in retail trade – 5.6%
Today, women leaders hold approximately 17% of the boardroom chairs in the Fortune top 500 companies against a feeble 9.6% in 1995 [Source].
Amongst the strong women leaders who shone in their careers are Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Indra Nooyi, Pepsico CEO, YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki, IBM CEO Meg Whitman and HP CEO Virginia “Ginni” Rometty.
Success stories of many curious and focused women prove that there’s no barrier that cannot be overcome. If you aspire to be a working woman, steer clear of the naysayers and clarify your purposes, and challenge your possibilities.
To do what you love and to love what you do, is the key.
“In the future, there will be no female leaders. There will just be leaders.”
― Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead
For the first time in the history, Federal Reserve Board is being chaired by a woman, Janet Yellen, whereas Angela Merkel is considered the most powerful person in Europe. Women empowerment efforts have come a long way from the last century when female members of the society were discouraged from being wage earners. But it was the norm set by those women that today we see women entrepreneurs excelling at the highest positions, encouraging more women to dream big. So much so, that even in the developing country of Saudi Arabia, one of the country’s best known directors, , Haifaa al-Mansour’s film Wadjda was nominated for an Oscar for the first time too.
In the Middle East too, women are making their mark on the corporate landscape. Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al-Khalifa, the Princess consort of the Kingdom of Bahrain, wife of the King of Bahrain, His Majesty Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, has contributed tremendously towards national efforts to empower Bahraini women – from formulating the National Strategy for the Advancement of Bahraini Women to launching the first women’s political empowerment program of its kind in the Arab region to introducing strong initiatives such as establishing Her Royal Highness Princess Sabeeka Bint Ibrahim Al Khalifa Award for Women Empowerment to further encourage efforts, initiatives and participation in empowering Bahraini working women as well as consolidating a policy that does not discriminate against women.
Recently, Her Highness Sheikha Hessa Bint Khalifa Al Khalifa, Executive Director of INJAZ Bahrain, was awarded the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Person of the Year Award by the CSR Regional Network. The award comes as recognition for Her Highness’s efforts with the INJAZ Bahrain organization which span over two decades.
HH has been active in youth-empowering initiatives and developmental projects which have contributed in boosting voluntary work. Her positive activism efforts are directly responsible for Bahrain’s status on the regional and international map as a leader in youth empowerment and community stability.
There is no looking back for Arab women, as we take immense pride in Masheel al Shamimri, the first Arab female rocket and space engineer, who is an inspiration for generations to come. Arab economies have taken a huge shift towards most modern technologies since Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence are becoming mainstream.
A huge impact has been driven with Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality(AR), having the ability to spur learning and skill development. Top-notch Arab company – VRXOne that ranks in top 10 companies in ARVR globally, is conducting the region’s largest ed-tech program: 1 Million Virtual Reality based Expeditions in the Middle East. With the comprehensive program from VRXOne, and standard content from Google Expeditions, the program is on its way to reach millions of school students including special education institutes and higher education, it is noteworthy to mention that the tremendous program is being delivered by a group majority of which consists of women.
Thousands of teachers have been trained to use ARVR, diversifying their skillset and empowering them with the application in the state-of-the-art technology, making them capable of bringing the classroom to life with simple tools and easy steps. Furthermore, ARVR provided the affordable means to reach educators, healthcare providers, entrepreneurs as well as new graduates in the third world countries enabling them to travel around the world using inexpensive tools and benefit from world-class education and latest technology advancements in their respective fields.
Through ARVR, much training has been delivered to professionals in 3rd world countries, where basic needs were lacking for healthcare, education, health & safety. Those well trained women are now able to empower generations to come, thanks to a simple, accessible, cost-saving, and impactful method of learn-by-doing through Virtual Reality.
Today, Middle East is home to women that are better educated and skilled than ever before and more importantly, they are motivated to forge their way ahead. Names like Dr. Fatima Al Balooshi, Former Minister of Social Development; Wafa Obeidat, Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director of Obai and Hill, Najwa AbdulRahim, Vice President for ICT at Bahrain Airport Company; and Hala Al Moayyed, Vice Chairman at Al Moayyed International Group – are synonymous to success in the Gulf world.
While women in business is a glorious reality, women in tech are taking up creative, strong jobs that substantiate the field. Many powerful women leaders of the world are established ‘tech women’. Take for instance the case of Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg who has been named the most powerful woman in technology on the Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list, the fifth year in a row.
A career in technology is not merely working for a tech giant. With new frontiers, there are latest innovations to explore and women are marking their presence in the field. Internet of things, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning are the buzzwords for which many women are working, some on the frontend and a few in the backyard. Working in technology sector means learning the nuts and bolts of a male-dominated industry, but so is the case with most other fields.
The technology available to us right now is exhilarating. And also overwhelming is the pace at which it is growing. Smart home tech is an innovation under pipeline through which tons of appliances will be integrated into a seamless and unified network. With Apple, Google and Amazon showing a keen interest in developing the technology, good news is awaited. A Twitter thread asked, “Who are some women of IoT”. An interesting Twitter thread in itself, it caught the attention of many, to an extent that someone suggested to enlist the women working for tech in a Google docs sheet.
Early stage devices for supreme level VR and AR have also set the pitch right. Pokemon GO, based on AR, had over a 100 million downloads! That’s terrific to say the least. AR and VR versions of technically everything will be seen around. Rachel Rubin Franklin is the head of social VR at Facebook. Having launched various interactive products, she has a massive experience of 20 years in the field. With great liking for video games and VR, Franklin developed an interest in the field at a tender age, while playing games on her father’s computer.
Other women in AR, VR tech are Kimberly Cooper, CEO and co-founder of Spatialand, an innovative VR platform and toolkit, and Christine Lee, the vice president and general manager of global business development at Immersv, a mobile VR and 360 video advertising company.
While women education is a very stressed upon topic, women empowerment has also opened room for discussion to have working women in different fields. While more homemakers are turning into women techmaker, the trend is brisk. Jobs in technology are creative, contrary to the stereotypical belief of geeky. Coding, digital marketing, engineering are some fields where creativity meets intelligence. More women are realizing that they don’t need a background to have their start-ups or take up lead positions in companies.
Let us hope that the next generation of talent witnesses the rise of women leaders who do not limit themselves or conform to the gender roles set by the society. Until then, let’s support the current steps of change.
CA corporates with a healthy representation of people from different communities, religions and a balance of both the genders are likely to make the best bang. A report tells that the companies with more women on board had 42% better return on sales, 53% better return on equity and 66% bigger return on the invested capital [Catalyst].
Another report by Credit Suisse Research Institute informs that the larger companies had a more proportion of women directors. A deal of this trend is down to the fact that women tend to be more patient and tender towards the peers [Link].
Diversity and inclusion are the buzzwords in the corporate field and of late, there’s been a lot of talk about recruiting more women, especially in Tech companies. An observation by an economist Guy Berger at LinkedIn reveals that the technology industry has hired the most women between 2008 and 2016, the overall percentage increase being 24.4% [Article]. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg has been consecutively winning the title of ‘the most powerful woman in technology’ since 2011. The leading lady acquired the 7th position in the Forbes’ 100 Most Powerful Women list. YouTube’s CEO Susan Wojcicki is a close successorat the number 8 position highlighting the fact that any woman is just as competent as a man, given the autonomy to chase her ideas.
We are moving towards a work culture of equal representation and shared responsibilities. IBM and HP both have women CEOs on the panel and the companies flourish well through the guidance of their Chief Executive Officers namely Meg Whitman and Virginia “Ginni” Rometty, respectively. The leader of e-commerce in China and a major player in the world market, Alibaba as well is co-founded by Lucy Peng. The industry which is becoming the favorite destination of high school graders is showing a positive trend by adapting to the demand of women leadership. For women starting to make a career in tech, the road is not a cakewalk, but it has surely gotten much better than how it was a decade back.
It is as important to be in one’s own skin, as is to adapt to the needs of the company. Just like the software language changes, the work environment has also improved, and just like the technologies and software, it has upgraded exceptionally. Since the industry favors the best, it is time for the working women in tech to speak up and be heard. Time to not rely on the previous trends, but connect the dots and shape the future.