Boss Lady

Climbing the ladder


Success is a hard thing to measure, for a number of reasons.  And how we define it can depend on who we are and what we want in life. But for many people, success is measured by how high we are climbing the ladder … the corporate or business hierarchy. And for women, there are undeniably still fewer of us on the upper rungs.

A study from the US published on showed a number of interesting figures, one of which was that women “…hold just 16.9% of Fortune 500 board seats”.

However one woman who has bucked the restrictive stereotype is Sandra E. Rowland who was appointed as Vice President of Corporate Development and Investor Relations at HARMEN.

Rowland, interviewed by journalist and author Laura Dunn, elaborated on her climb up the ladder, covering everything from life experiences shaping her as a leader and previous employment aiding her current position, to maintaining a work/life balance and which female leaders inspire her.

“… the opportunities I’ve had to lead strategic initiatives and the confidence I’ve gained from working in different industries and cultures, on teams with different styles and approaches, have helped me in acclimating to the fast-paced, diverse and entrepreneurial culture of HARMAN,” Rowland says.

She’s quick to point out that opportunities have had a lot to do with her success but, sometimes, are not as common for women as they should be. This correlates with the aforementioned the study also showing that women are also “…only 14.6% of executive officers, 8.1% of top earners, and 4.6% of Fortune 500 CEOs”.

While becoming a leader can start anywhere, Rowland says she learned and developed her leadership skills through sports at a young age,

“These experiences have had a significant impact on my leadership style today because it’s in sports that I learned two important lessons – the power of teamwork and how to compete: to set high goals and work extremely hard to meet or exceed those targets,” Rowland says.

But what else goes into being a leader? Learning and developing these skills at a young age, like Rowland did through sports is a great place to start. But what about those who are not athletic?

University studies can also be a great place and a lot of women seem to be taking that path to help them climb the ladder. The study cites that women in the US are awarded almost 60% of undergraduate degrees,  60% of all master’s degrees, 47% of all law degree, 48% of all medical degrees, and more than 44% of master’s degrees in business and management.

But despite all the education, leadership training and business skills, when you examine the top rungs of jobs at companies or organizations, the number of women still seems to drop off ⎯  a factor Rowland commented on.

“In early career positions, women and men are starting out in almost equal numbers. In fact, women are obtaining undergraduate and graduate degrees at a higher rate than men. However, the ratio shifts dramatically the higher you go in an organization,” she said.

So it seems we still have a long way to go before women can get as firm a hold on the top rungs of the ladder in similar numbers to men.



About Rowena Nagy

Rowena Nagy is a Journalist at The Business Woman Media. A graduate in Journalism, Media and Communications, she is passionate about in writing, travel journalism, video journalism and Public Relations.

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