Fifty percent of respondents to a recent Women In Optometry poll shared that they believe that women are under-represented in leadership in the optometry profession. Another 44 percent of those who responded were neutral about women in leadership, and just 6 percent felt that women are well-represented in optometric leadership.
Respondents cited family responsibilities not leaving time for leadership positions as a major reason that they believe women are under-represented. Many others noted that women are less likely to ask for promotions and this may impact their leadership roles, as well as that businesses aren’t ready to hire women in executive leadership positions.
WO compares these results to obstacles to female leadership by the Pew Research Center. Several of the major reasons cited by Pew Research Center did overlap with our respondents, however, Pew Research Center marked that its top reason was that women were held at a higher standard than men, while that was not a major reason among most of WO respondents.
Nearly 80 percent of survey respondents were female ODs. Some WO poll participants elaborated on their responses and shared the comments included below.
The Glass Ceiling is a persistent clear obstacle. We can see through it, but when we get close and breath, we can see the fog.
With regards to the comment above that women aren’t tough enough – it is not a gender issue in Optometry, it is the prevalence of a behavioral type. The research is unequivocal – Optometry is OVER REPRESENTED with S Styles (DISC BEHAVIORAL TYPES) compared to the general population. This is true for both men and women Optometrists. Leadership is NOT their natural tendency – This by no means they can’t be great leaders – they just have to be willing/ready/taught/coached to step out of their comfort zone to accept this role.
I think the business world (including optometry) just is not set up for women who work extremely hard on multiple endeavors (including family).
The ability to attend multiple meetings when women have a young family inhibits the ability to say YES. Women still hold TWO jobs – paid and unpaid!
I think as women we need to be more open and supportive of the success of other women, even if it isn’t our definition of success for ourselves. For example, this publication often heralds private practice owners, but what about the many many female optometrists climbing the corporate ranks in optometry? Why don’t they ever get recognition in your publication.
Editor’s note: Luxottica, National Vision Inc. and Walmart are all sponsors of Women In Optometry. Affiliated doctors’ stories can be found on each of those channels under Growth Strategies, as well as under Modes of Practice.