Kids look to public and private figures, both ones at home and those in the spotlight, as role models for career potential, for what to be as they grow into adults, and how to view and react to the world. When I was younger, I knew I wanted to have freedom of choice when it came to my career. I looked to my mother as a strong, confident woman who built a strong career despite many challenging situations (raising five kids, followed by an accident that left her immobile for close to a year), to become a nurse, and then go back to school to become a nurse practitioner. The strength, commitment, hustle and grit, and most of all, the vision for her life served as a strong model to me.

As a woman in business today, the importance of these role models doesn’t go away but they do become harder to find the further up the ladder you look. For younger women just starting out in their careers, finding these role models early on is critical if we’re ever going to change the dynamics of those sitting around the table, and thus changing the results our businesses will realize.

The ability to relate to other female leaders and have concrete examples of what’s possible in business, especially in tech, is clearly a challenge. The presence of female leaders is still smaller than it should be, but we all know this. It’s still worth pointing out the disappointing stats associated with females in leadership positions as we look to the model we are setting for the next generation of leaders:

  • Only 4.2% of Fortune 500 companies are led by females. Yet, when you look at the entire labor force in the US, women make up just shy of half of the workforce (Source: Statistical Overview of Women in the Workforce; Fortune Knowledge Group).
  • Women are now the leading breadwinners in over 40% of US households. In 1960, this number was only 11%. And even still, women claim they still own 2/3 of the house and childcare responsibilities (Source: The New Breadwinners).

Female CEO Autumn Manning and Kids

Because of these numbers, it’s easy for people to walk away with the impression that women don’t have what it takes to be successful in leadership positions. Is that true, though? Or is it the case that women can and should work, but lack the skills when it comes to leading? Well, here’s some proof that challenges the flawed assumption that women don’t have what it takes:

  • According to a study by Zenger Folkman looking at 16 leadership dimensions – the ones that are highly correlated with success in leadership positions – women were rated higher in 12 of the 16 traits. The highest scoring traits for women? Driving for Results and Initiative (Source: Harvard Business Review, “Are Women Better Leaders than Men?”).
  • “Women-led private technology companies are more capital-efficient, achieving 35% higher return on investment, and, when venture-backed, bringing in 12% higher revenue than male-owned tech companies, according to research conducted by the Kauffman Foundation” (Source: Women in Technology: Evolving, Ready to Save the World).
  • The high-tech companies women build are more capital-efficient than the norm. The average venture-backed company run by a woman had achieved comparable early-year revenues, using an average of one-third less committed capital (Source: Illuminate Ventures, Women in High Tech).

And on and on.

This type of data and the results breed confidence in many, to believe they have what it takes to step into roles that otherwise might hold back from. Because I am a female CEO, because today is good reason to bring up this topic, and because I had to personally overcome the lie I told myself for years that perhaps I don’t have what it takes, I love seeing William Tincup’s list of 300+ Women in HR Technology Worth Watching on Recruiting Daily. It’s an opportunity to see what other women in the field are doing to impact the future of the workplace using technology and to celebrate their accomplishments.

Bravo to each of you for seeing an opportunity, seeing the statistics that work against motivating you, and leading anyway.

About Autumn Manning
Autumn Manning is one of the happiest CEO’s in the world. She spends her days surrounded by a smart team at YouEarnedIt and combines her background in behavioral psychology, human capital management, and building corporate culture to create the world’s best employee experience platform. LinkedIn Twitter

About YouEarnedIt
YouEarnedIt is the employee experience platform that scales the core of an organization’s culture. As companies evolve, champions for the employee experience need a solution that appreciates and adapts to what makes their culture unique. In one trailblazing platform, YouEarnedIt provides real-time recognition, transformational behavior bonuses, continuous feedback, and actionable analytics to deliver an unmatched employee experience and a powerful return on investment. When people feel connected to core values and one another, cultures and organizations thrive — because YouEarnedIt. Visit for more information or schedule a quick chat with our employee engagement pros to see if we can help.

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Autumn Manning