There has been so much in the media lately that women are still behind when it comes to equality in the work place. We represent less than 2% of the C-suite in the Fortune 500 companies. It’ll be another 40 years before women receive equal pay. The gender biases are crushing our attempts at taking on historically male dominated positions. (Some are self-inflicted, I might add…)

But there are women who are helping the rest of us take strides… Sheryl Sandberg became COO of Facebook. Marissa Mayer took over the reins at Yahoo. In December 2013, Mary Barra broke into the good ole’ ‘boys club’ by being named CEO at GM, the first woman CEO in the auto industry. There are countless others who don’t rank quite so high on the ‘corporate ladder’ who are also breaking down barriers.

At this point, I’m ignoring the elephant in the room, which is the entire work/life balance debate. There are two camps when it comes to how women could and should ‘balance’ their work life with their home life. If you’re interested in opposing views, I’d suggest reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book, Lean In, and Anne-Marie Slaughter’s article “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All”.  My goal is to share my own thoughts and experience on this debate but not in this post. It would be way too long…

When it comes to the topic of our (women’s) professional development, I believe a majority of women leave their advancement to chance or to someone else (boss, spouse) rather than owning their career path.  From my chair, women aren’t moving through the ranks as quickly or efficiently as men are.  There are many reasons for this, both external and internal, and I’ll unpack those in upcoming posts. 

One local company has recognized this and formed an initiative called Women Connect. This company realized that 70% of its workforce was women, however, less than 10% of leadership positions were held by women. Their goal, through Women Connect, is to correct this imbalance by helping the women in their organization identify short-term and long-term career goals.  The secondary goal of this initiative is to support the women in achieving their goals through education, accountability, training, and networking opportunities.

Last week, I gave a presentation to this group about how we, as women, need to take responsibility for our own professional development. As always, I used concepts in motorcycling to illustrate my points. The way I see it, our careers are cross-country road trips where we’ll experience off-ramps and on-ramps, sunny days and rainy days, smooth roads and road construction. There are 3 tactics we, not only women but men too, need to employ on this road trip that will make it a more enjoyable, personal, and memorable trip. In order to be ready to ride, we need to Know our Power, Grab the Bars, and Roll on the Throttle. These next few posts will outline each of these tactics. I hope you’ll join in on the discussion.

Before we begin, what are your thoughts on women and how we’re doing from a professional development standpoint?