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Globally, the # of female executives versus males is still disturbingly low.  I believe the pace at which women are moving upward over the last decade is commendable at best.  The rise seems to slow down at middle to senior management levels.  This excludes women who are founders of their own companies.

Females seem to face a career pause at this point. Call it a ‘glass ceiling’ …or is it?  In my own company, while we do have several Directors and VPs who are female, the vast majority are male.  As for CEOs, particularly in the science and tech industry, the numbers are dramatically low.

The obvious factors behind the lag in career mobility after a certain point might be: family obligations, adversity from male dominated leadership, fear of failure and scrutiny or, in many cases, women who are satisfied with their careers at a particular point in their management track.

As I write this, I think about separate yet similar examples of women in high level roles which can steer one in a certain direction.

My daughter’s school principal, who was an excellent educator with phD and champion for girls in STEM, only served for a year before leaving the school system to care for an ailing parent.

A close relative was promoted to VP in her tech job after 20 years of service and stepped down to a lower level position after a couple years due to excessive hours and undue stress.

Another was laid off from her VP role at a prestigious educational firm and was forced to take a job as a senior manager with another large company.

I read over an internal job requisition last week. I looked up the overseeing director for the organization and all his reports and their direct reports, all managers.  There were 26 males and 3 women.  The further down the chain, the female counts go up slightly.

As I write this, I’m flying home from a business trip and listen to the male pilot make his announcement. I ponder how ALL the pilots are typically male.  Why?  With the growth of women in aerospace, where are the female pilots?  Studies show that in 2011, 93% of all commercial pilots were men.

I’ve become more hyper-sensitive to these observations as I contemplate my own career track. Part of me fears the level of responsibility of advancing to Director or VP level, but the other part relishes in the thought of it. 

I recently interviewed a senior manufacturing manager while on business travel. She was amazing to talk to.  She said it so simply.  “The way I look at it, I’ve achieved my goal.”  She now lives where she’s always dreamed and commutes a short drive for work.  She seems so fulfilled.  I found myself inspired by this.  Goals come in different forms at different points in our lives.

Whatever our trajectory as women, let’s never stop growing (mentally) and always check ourselves every now and then to make sure what we’re striving for is truly for ourselves and not to meet someone else’s expectations.  Either way, we’re winners!  Thanks for reading…