2 Factors Are Stopping Women From Climbing the Career Ladder, but You Can Overcome Them
The number of women in leadership positions in the American workforce has increased by just 1% in the past six years, from 36% in 2016 to 37% in 2022, a recent LinkedIn analysis found. The analysis also found that women are less likely to make the climb from entry-level roles to leadership positions, even in fields where they hold the majority of positions, like hospitality and administrative services.
So what’s holding women back? The analysis posits that two major factors are a comparative lack of strong professional networks and a lack of mentor relationships. Just 14% of women said they have a strong professional network, compared to 20% of men. Additionally, 27% of women said they have a workplace mentor, compared to 42% of men.
In this “Financially Savvy Female” column, we’re chatting with Blair Heitmann, a LinkedIn career expert, about why networks and mentors are powerful tools for climbing the career ladder, and how women can harness these tools to help them land leadership roles.
What are some tips for women to build a professional network?
Connect with people you know. Start by reaching out to your nearest and dearest — friends, family, professors and people outside of your current field of work who you know personally. These are the people who likely know you best and can speak to your work ethic and who you are as an individual. You’ll probably realize you have a wider network than you think, even if you’re just out of school or in your first job. Coaches, classmates and former professors can make strong connections.
You can also connect with people from additional communities, within your company, industry, etc., who share your professional interests, as you’ll have common ground to start a conversation.
Ask for warm introductions. A great way to create new connections on LinkedIn is to ask someone in your network to make an introduction to someone in their network. Once you’ve been introduced by a mutual connection, take the time to craft a personal note — be specific and start by letting the person know what you have in common. You can look through their LinkedIn profile to see what, if any, experiences or interests you share.
Stay in touch with your connections. It’s a small world. You never know when you may cross paths with a former boss or colleague, so it’s important to keep your network warm, whether it’s commenting on a post, sharing an article or sending a message just to check in.
Why is having a strong network such an important factor for women’s career growth?
While your skills and what you know are important for growing in your career, a lot of your career advancement also hinges on who you know.
Since so much of hiring today happens through network connections, having a strong professional network can go a really long way in getting your name to the top of the list for a new opportunity. For example, our data shows that LinkedIn members are four times more likely to get a job at a company where they already have a connection.
What are some tips for women to find a professional mentor?
Start by taking a look at the successful women at your current company, and don’t be afraid to reach out to them to ask if they’ll talk to you about their own career path. It’s a great way to determine if they could be a good mentor for you.