In this ever changing world where 21st century technology impacts everything, is it the 20th century tools of women's conferences and women's networks that keep women out of leadership positions? Women leaders talking to women is important, but that alone isn't going to change the ratio. Avivah Wittenberg-Cox talks about where conferences and women's network's go wrong. Avivah writes "Another women's conference finds another predominantly female group of HR Directors seeking to improve the gender balance in their firms. In reality, women are working far too hard at an issue actually beyond their power to solve. Corporate leaders must recognize that additional women-dominated efforts are not the way to get companies to take the gender issue seriously. Rather, the solution requires action by those in leadership positions..." Read more of Avivah's article.
The point is the responsibility of solving this problem rests with the people in charge, which is most often men. Therefore all the studies on what's wrong with women to explain why they aren't in enough leadership positions miss the point. It's not because women smile too much or because to be successful women have to be less likable. (I find it absurd to even type those excuses in this post!) So many articles are written about how women need to change to get ahead. But the real solution is for companies to clear the path to power for women (adequate training, succession planning, proper mentoring and flexibility), not to create separate networks for them or to pay for them to go to women's conferences or to ask them to change in some way. Companies need to be more assertive in their hiring. Maybe they should just try smiling less and appointing more women.