The past 50 years have witnessed significant progress in the advancement of women in the workplace. However, women, albeit successfully increasing their presence in mid-management positions, still face difficulties penetrating executive positions primarily dominated by men. The “glass ceiling” is yet to shatter, although contemporary media might paint it otherwise. Unlike the latter, women have to navigate a complex labyrinth to land senior roles. Structural issues, perceptions of gender and leadership, prejudices, and discrimination remain formidable barriers for women in workplace advancement.
Structural issues can be particularly felt in corporate settings, and these directly impact women’s career advancement. For instance, promotion to senior roles depends not only on skills and experience but also on ambiguous factors, such as amicable relationships with people of power or other implicit expectations. Society also perceives leadership traits to mirror those which are typically attributed to men. In addition, women also face issues in the form of sexism, stereotypes, and tokenism or the advancement of only a few women into higher positions of power.
Women also face discrimination in politics and the arts. Although women’s representation in the political arena has increased significantly, the extent of their participation, as well as their influence in policymaking, significantly varies. The glass ceiling is not only evident in the corporate and political worlds. Empirical data suggests that women remain underrepresented in the primary and secondary art markets. Ashley Davis, Co-President of the Belizean Grove, a global network of highly influential women playing pivotal roles in sharing expertise and seeking solutions to persisting issues of our time, recognizes the utmost significance of having more women in power, especially in the corporate and political spaces, as well as the arts.
“Women comprise half of the world’s population at this point. I believe we need another voice,” says Ashley regarding women’s representation in different areas of society. She believes that women possess a voice that can make a difference as they have the power to bring people together in unimaginable ways. For instance, research reports that women leaders in politics bring numerous societal benefits, given that they prioritize the most vulnerable and incorporate inclusive leadership styles to ensure consistent and high-quality public service delivery. Ashley’s exceptional leadership as a Special Assistant to National Director of Homeland Security Tom Ridge after the September 11 attacks is a testament to why we need more women in politics. She helped command 120 staff and directed daily operations at the Office of Homeland Security in the Executive Office of the President.
Moreover, Ashley was one of the members of the task force who helped establish the Department of Homeland Security, the first new federal agency in the United States for more than half a century. She also contributed to the development of several government initiatives, such as the creation of the USA Freedom Corps (USAFC), an office tasked to coordinate various volunteer programs. Ashley’s experiences highlight her prowess as a results-driven, reliable, consistent, and courageous woman in power, showcasing the exceptional impact of a woman’s leadership.
Ashley’s accomplishments do not stop at the political sector. Her leadership extends to the broader community, aiming to provide much-needed insights into the numerous complex issues the world faces. As the Co-President of Belizean Grove, she shares her expertise in seeking solutions and contributing to fostering a community founded on trust and the common goal of giving back to communities around the globe.
Established women leaders play crucial roles in supporting and guiding younger women in navigating the complex labyrinth to attain positions in sectors of society that are highly dominated by men. Ashley acknowledges this and proactively contributes to women’s empowerment by setting a valuable example through her works and providing aspiring women leaders valuable insights, sharing her experiences, and offering guidance. The seasoned woman leader continues to pave the way and break down the barriers that have hindered women’s progress, underscoring that the glass ceiling can indeed be shattered.
Essentially, as a member of the BigSpeak Motivational Speakers Bureau, Ashley uses her voice to inspire other people to walk on the path less traveled. Ashley notes, “Taking the first step is all that matters. Take big chances if you want to get to the next level. Things have been changing. It has been that way business-wise, as well as politically. Women are being let into these spaces. Men are born thinking they’re born to run for office. Women don’t. It takes a lot longer for women to gain that confidence, and I’m here to help them.”