Empowered women: discover how to bring out the leader in you

16/03/2021

The concept of female empowerment has spread in recent years in many areas, from companies to Hollywood film sets. But do you know what it is to be an empowered woman and, more importantly, how you can become one?  

Although the idea of female empowerment has been present throughout history, represented by all those women who stood up to established canons and fought for effective equality, the term itself is relatively recent. In fact, it was adopted at the Fourth World Conference on Women held in Beijing in 1995 with the commitment of countries to promote change in favour of women's rights. Do you want to know more about female empowerment and progress towards real equality? Do you want to see inspiring examples of women leaders? Keep reading!

Female empowerment: towards real equality

Although legal equality in the workplace is a reality in many countries, there is still a long way to go to achieve real equality between men and women. In this sense, change is happening progressively.

For example, from 2015 to 2018, the number of women in executive levels increased by 4%, from 17% to 21%, according to the 2019 McKinsey study Women in the Workplace. Currently, 68% of companies consider themselves committed to supporting gender equality and the empowerment of women, according to the report Women’s Empowerment and Business: 2020 Trends and Opportunities by the United Nations (UN).

However, access to the labour market, family reconciliation, the wage gap or the glass ceiling remain real problems. Did you know that, according to the 2020 Bloomberg report Gender Equality Index, only 6% of female professionals hold CEO positions? And that, according to the study Global Gender Gap Report of the World Economic Forum (2020), only 18.2% of women hold positions on boards of directors or business leadership, despite constituting half of the workforce?

Therefore, both governments and companies must intervene in this objective towards effective equality between men and women, banishing prejudices and social clichés. 

 

Empowered women speaking

5 characteristics of empowered women 

In achieving this challenge, empowered women and professionals who lead the fight for equality with their actions also take on a special role.

But what exactly is an empowered woman? According to the Cambridge Dictionary, empower means “to give someone official authority or the freedom to do something”. Therefore, female empowerment represents that awareness, both individually and collectively, that women have the ability to be owners of their own actions, to take action and, ultimately, to lead their lives. 

There are a number of qualities you will recognise in empowered women:

  • They develop their own leadership style. Being an empowered woman does not mean repeating traditionally male leadership patterns, but rather that these professionals are able to find their own way to inspire and motivate others. 
  • They know how to communicate. Within the leadership skills of female empowerment, communication, negotiation and persuasion stand out. The empowered woman is capable of transmitting her message and making herself understood. 
  • They are influential. The empowered woman influences her environment. Not only does she have the professional skills to design her own path, but she also has the necessary attitude to pass her empowerment along at all levels and become a reference.  
  • They are committed to innovation. To achieve this support, empowered women assume the responsibility of creating change, of leaving the traditional role that society has assigned them and exploring innovative paths, both in their way of acting and in their work projects. 
  • They promote female empowerment. Being aware of the circumstances and obstacles that many working women face, empowered women do not seek to compete or compare themselves with others, but instead fight to eliminate those barriers and invite other professionals to follow in their wake. 

     

These same skills are those promoted by Banco Santander by calling the Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics. It is an eight-week training program aimed at women with more than 10 years of work experience and from different countries in Europe (Spain, Germany, Portugal, Poland or the United Kingdom) and from America (United States, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Uruguay or Peru) who wish to boost their leadership skills, prepare a personal development plan and evolve in their professional career

Thanks to this online training plan you will be able to acquire knowledge and techniques related to team leadership, delve into different negotiation strategies and tools, evaluation methods and conflict resolution techniques, and acquire essential skills to become an empowered woman and promote female representation in companies and entities of any sector.

Inspiring examples of female empowerment

Many female professionals in history are models of female empowerment: great researchers, such as Rosalind Franklin (mother of the DNA chain) or Marie Curie (discoverer of radium and polonium); defenders of equality between men and women from politics, such as Emmeline Pankhurst or Clara Campoamor, and artists or creators, such as Frida Kahlo or Coco Chanel. 

A closer contemporary example is that of Michelle Obama. The former first lady stands as a global reference for female empowerment thanks to her words, speeches and actions.

In countries with fewer resources, there are also clear examples of women's empowerment. One of them is Malala, the Pakistani activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014 for her defence of civil rights, especially those of women.

At the corporate level, an inspiring example is Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook's chief operating officer, who takes every opportunity to highlight the need to incorporate women at all professional levels.

 

Confident empowered woman

7 tips to empower yourself

Do you want to follow in their footsteps? There are a series of guidelines that you can carry out to work on your own empowerment and become an empowered woman:

  1. Know yourself. The first thing you should do is analyse who you are and what your aspirations are. Only by knowing your starting point and your goal will you be able to make the appropriate decisions to achieve it. Have a well-defined objective, clearly knowing why you want to achieve it will be your best driving force to move forward.
  2. Set short-term and long-term goals. By setting goals that are too ambitious you run the risk of losing your motivation and willpower, as they are more difficult and slow to achieve. What can you do to avoid this? In addition to setting long-term goals, break them down into small milestones that you can overcome little by little and allow you to feel satisfied and focused.
  3. Get out of your comfort zone. An empowered woman is not afraid to take on new challenges. Get out of your comfort zone when you have the opportunity and see how you are conquering your fears and acquiring a new experience that will help you open many doors and value yourself more and more.
  4. Build a network of contacts. On this path to becoming an empowered woman, you are not alone. In fact, one of the qualities of female empowerment is mutual support. Hence, it is very useful to network and establish relationships with other professionals in the same situation or established leaders to share experiences, knowledge and advice.
  5. Be yourself. It's okay to seek inspiration or support in other cases of effective leadership, but don't forget to be authentic and guide yourself by your values and purposes. Only by believing in your goals and acting independently will you be able to advance on this path.
  6. Work on your self-confidence. You are what you believe, so you must reinforce the security in your potential without falling into banality. That is why it is so important to develop self-confidence, a quality that you can gain through improving skills in personal and professional fields.
  7. Educate yourself. There is no better way to increase self-confidence than through training, as it allows you to reinforce your strengths and minimise your weaknesses. Acquiring new skills will allow you to feel prepared to face new professional stages and redesign your limits. That said, betting on lifelong learning or continuous learning is a great option.

     

The Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics, were designed to improve the leadership skills of women with more than 10 years of work experience in any type of organisation (corporations, start-ups, NGOs, universities, scientific institutions, etc.) and to contribute to the training of empowered professionals. Thanks to a first-rate teaching staff, you will acquire knowledge about team leadership (studies, theories, skills)  and you will be able to apply it in the development of your own style. In addition, you will expand your professional network, since you will learn together with an international group of colleagues with whom you can share goals and interests.

If you feel that it is time to boost your professional career towards leadership and you have more than 10 years of experience, register for the program and seize this opportunity!

(At the moment the Santander Scholarships Women | W50 Leadership - London School of Economics has ended, but we encourage you to consult the Santander Scholarships to find the training that best suits you and give a boost to your professional career. Seize the chance to develop your knowledge and skills!)