3 Ways to Support Young Women in Their Careers

Women need to believe in themselves again.  In the late 1960’s to the 1980’s we saw women embracing their own self-worth and capabilities with strong confidence.  They didn’t need to be perfect but they wanted to make things happen and they did.

But then what happened?  For the past 15 – 20 years, we have steadily seen women fall off their career growth and success.  Yes, we know there are major societal and cultural barriers to women here in our country but there is something more subtle going on.  Women become their own worst critics.

These highly educated, capable young women start falling behind at almost every turning point in their career paths.  That inner voice of self-doubt becomes louder and they begin turning down opportunities to advance saying to themselves “I’m not good enough, qualified enough, and smart enough or the time just isn’t right”.   Interestingly, we don’t see the young men saying that at all – they tell themselves “I’ll learn it as I go”.  The result . . . they move ahead and advance quickly.

This disturbing trend has been well documented but has received little serious attention by human resource professionals or the leaders of growing organizations – all who are now scrambling to recruit and retain top talent especially among the millennial generation.

What can we do?  Here are three actions that HR departments and company leaders can take.

  • Establish one-on-one mentoring programs
  • Create confidential professional peer support groups
  • Teach coaching skills to all managers/supervisors.

This is just a short list – there is so much more that we all need to do to stop this talent drain.  Let’s help these young women grow their self-confidence so they can step up to critical leadership positions in their professional work and in their communities.  We need them!

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