Having women in leadership roles is critical to building more women-led companies

Women in leadership roles have a crucial duality of not just showcasing the voice of women in decision-making but also inspiring other women to pursue their ambition fearlessly.

Having women in leadership roles is critical to building more women-led companies

Friday April 29, 2022,

4 min Read

The ‘draw-a-scientist’ study conducted in the early 1980s is one of those social experiments that demand to be remembered. In the now-famous study, 5,000 school children were given a simple instruction - to draw a scientist. This seemingly basic design led to some very interesting results. An overwhelming majority of the children drew pictures of male scientists, and less than 1 percent of children who participated in the experiment drew a female scientist.

But that’s not the most memorable part of the study for me, it’s this – close to half the participants in the experiment were young girls themselves. Yet, a majority of them could not even visualise a woman in the role.

Can there be a bigger testament to the importance of representation?

Inspiring the next crop of women leaders

The impact of role models can be implicit, yet powerful. It sends you a message that if they could do it, so can you. I can vouch for this because it's a method of influence that has personally touched my life as well. I grew up around inspiring women. My working mother, who pursued her career while juggling her family responsibilities, paved the way for me to follow in. She, in turn, was influenced by my grandmother - an English-speaking, sport-loving woman, a rarity in her time. I’ve had multiple women throughout my family who have gone on to chase their ambitions, be it in civil services, banking, teaching, or even biotechnology.

So, when it came to me pursuing my goals, starting up the road to entrepreneurship was not a hurdle in my mind because I had seen other women do it. In many ways, I think I am a product of what happens when women are supported and not bracketed because of gender.

Having women in leadership roles has this crucial duality of not just showcasing the voice of women in decision-making, but also in inspiring other women to pursue their ambition fearlessly. As of 2021, 39 percent of Indian companies had women CXOs i.e. women leading in some capacity or the other in the company. On the global front, while more women CEOs are leading Fortune 500 companies than at any other point in time, that record-setting number is only 41. What is inspiring though is the impact that these women can create on the next crop of professionals. Seeing women in positions of leadership as CXOs can only motivate other women to lead from the front in entrepreneurship too.

The way forward

Currently, women-owned enterprises represent 20 percent of all enterprises in India, up from 14 percent a decade ago. Dismal, but encouraging. Things are also steadily changing with key stakeholders such as policymakers and investors opening up a level playing field to women-owned businesses. We have also had examples of women founders taking their companies public not just globally, but in India too. These serve as powerful reminders that women are fully capable of taking care and taking charge. The only way forward is up.

Last year, a study from the analytics company Gallup, revealed what we had so far only considered anecdotal evidence - children who had role models were 10 times more likely to choose a career in the same field as those they look up to. In this particular case, the field in question was STEM.

But with women-led and women-owned companies making an impact in almost every domain possible, I believe the day isn’t far when the same can happen for the field of business too. Ultimately, the dream is to make equality so ubiquitous that instead of ‘women’ entrepreneurs, we have just ‘leaders’ and ‘change-makers’ building a better world.

(Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of YourStory.)