For the longest time, we regarded the ‘glass ceiling’ as an unfortunate by product of women climbing up the corporate ladder. At some point, we assumed, we were going to face some resistance – a member of the boys’ club who was more well-connected than we were, a more suitable candidate who did not have to take a couple of months every few years to have children, and on and on. And these assumptions, among others, amount to giving in to an internal glass ceiling, which is infinitely more damaging than the external challenges. Smashing the internal glass ceiling is important to allow us to flourish and deal with the external one. How do we do that?
I’ve heard it said that life should be an adventure, or nothing at all. But I’ve also heard people advocate for bring and staying in your comfort zone. Indeed, there are times when the comfort zone is not a bad place to be, such as during periods of great upheaval in your personal life, after life changing events etc. If it is true that all the magic happens out of our comfort zones, then we should push ourselves into the great unknown more often.
Since the book launched, I have met people with who I got into raging arguments around Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In over. There are a handful of people who are against some of the principles espoused in the text but for the most part, a lot of people agree that while not everything applies to everyone, there are a few valuable take-aways.
In fact, only until you have a conversation with someone about their moment of ‘Leaning In’ does the truth hit home – as women we are leaning in a lot more now, just not necessarily defining it in those terms. The battle is far from over though. How do you bridge the gap between being a follower and being more assertive, the latter being what you need in most cases to lean in?
Half of the African Union’s agenda for 2015 focuses on the empowerment of women: increased participation in social, economic and political fields. As a continent, we have a long way to go in ensuring that women’s causes do not get lost in what is now a euphemism for next era African development.
If, as a woman you continuously feel besieged by the system, beliefs and attitudes whenever you try to disrupt the status quo, then you’re not alone. Women all over the world, even in the developed world still struggle with the stereotypes that challenge equality. The consolation is, even those who have conquered their fear still find themselves battling with a crisis of confidence every so often. The key is in using this fear, not as a way of paralyzing you but as a way of tuning into your gut.