More op­por­tu­ni­ties to climb to top of lad­der

Women may be 10 years away from reach­ing gen­der par­ity in the work­force, CareerOne Edi­tor Cara Jenkin re­ports.

The Advertiser - Careers - - Executive, Professional & Management -

THE gen­der ca­reer di­vide may have more to do with a time lag from chang­ing com­mu­nity at­ti­tudes than dis­crim­i­na­tion in the work­place, lead­ers say.

By main­tain­ing an even play­ing field, they say women will reach gen­der par­ity in the work­force, per­haps in the next decade.

Pace Lawyers prin­ci­pal Se­rina Pace be­lieves male dom­i­na­tion in ar­eas, such as law, largely stems from the ca­reer choices and op­por­tu­ni­ties made avail­able to women decades ago, rather than any ac­tion now.

In the past 10 years, she fur­thered her ca­reer from be­ing a prac­ti­tioner at a large cor­po­rate law firm to be­ing the prin­ci­pal lawyer of her own firm.

She be­lieves many women from ear­lier gen­er­a­tions, how­ever, were not prepped with the same de­ter­mi­na­tion and peer sup­port to pur­sue and de­velop their ca­reers.

Women gen­er­ally were not en­cour­aged to pur­sue their tal­ents but told what ca­reer paths might be suit­able to them, of­ten had to take sig­nif­i­cant time out off work to raise a fam­ily and were the fam­ily’s pre­dom­i­nant care­givers, even af­ter re­turn­ing to work, she says.

Men, mean­while, went to univer­sity and pur­sued their to­plevel ca­reers.

That meant women climbed the lad­der more slowly than men. Only now are the ben­e­fits of chang­ing at­ti­tudes start­ing to emerge, she says.

‘‘This trend has been chang­ing and I dare say in an­other five to 10 years the in­dus­try should fur­ther ap­proach par­ity,’’ she says.

Since the 1980s, women have been en­cour­aged into ca­reers out­side the norm and study at univer­sity, which has put them on the path to­wards work­force par­ity. Com­mu­nity at­ti­tudes in­creas­ingly en­cour­age men to take on more fam­ily re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and wel­come women in se­nior po­si­tions.

‘‘It can be in­tim­i­dat­ing step­ping into the world on your own, par­tic­u­larly in a world that is still dom­i­nated by men,’’ Ms Pace says.

‘‘No client has raised my gen­der as an is­sue but peo­ple still ex­pect a man to be head­ing up a team of 10, and grow­ing, com­mer­cial and cor­po­rate lawyers.’’

She at­tributes her suc­cess to fol­low­ing busi­ness strate­gies and gain­ing sup­port which is not tai­lored specif­i­cally for women but rather for all lead­ers, what­ever their gen­der. Peer sup­port group The Ex­ec­u­tive Con­nec­tion chair­man Jerry Klee­man says fam­ily is an ad­di­tional bur­den few men carry. ‘‘Many of the fe­male ex­ec­u­tives I talked to are the most re­spon­si­ble for the fam­ily and chil­dren or cer­tainly feel that way,’’ he says.

He says be­ing in­volved in nongen­der spe­cific lead­er­ship pro­grams brings the added ad­van­tage of al­low­ing men and fe­male lead­ers to learn from each other’s ex­pe­ri­ences – in and out of the work­place. ‘‘I would ex­pect, over time, to see a tran­si­tion to par­ity or closer to par­ity in the work­place,’’ he says.

Pic­ture: Dean Martin

Se­rina Pace has taken op­por­tu­ni­ties to fur­ther her ca­reer.

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