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Self-limiting biases affect women professionals in social sector: Report

A crucial percentage of women professionals in the social sector miss leadership opportunities due to their own self-limiting biases, a report says.

According to a survey by India Leaders for Social Sector (ILSS), more than half the respondents among women professionals in the social sector with 8-15 years of experience felt at times slowed down by such biases.

Self-limiting biases often stem from social and cultural conditioning women experience, which can shape a sense of inferiority.

These beliefs lead to “self-limiting” behaviour that often leads to women having stereotypes about their own abilities, talents, opportunities and goals that could end up holding back one’s career, the survey said.

Unique challenges

“Women constantly grapple with unique challenges on their career front that are created by various external and internal factors and circumstances,” it said.

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“It is important to build conducive pathways for more women professionals to reach leadership positions, helping them overcome their limitations and see them thrive in successful careers,” said Anu Prasad, Founder and CEO of ILSS.

The survey highlighted the prevalence of socialised beliefs such as imposter syndrome which limit one’s leadership vision, with 50 per cent of women leaders experiencing it.

This phenomenon results in a disproportionate lack of women leaders at levels of senior management, relative to the number of women in entry-to-mid level roles, it said.

Advantage men

The ILSS report noted that respondents feel men have clearer access to cross-sectoral networks and mentorship opportunities with senior leaders.

This has led to 84.7 per cent respondents believing that building pathways to match emerging women leaders with senior women leaders may play a crucial role in supporting their leadership journeys.

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Nearly 73 per cent of emerging women leaders in the social sector also believe that continued mentorship and networking support would boost their leadership ambitions.

Multiple factors, such as family, societal perception, lack of opportunities and exclusion have often prevented many women from building senior leadership careers, it said.

(With agency inputs)

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