The Lipstick Diaries

Whether you’re actually a mother or not doesn’t seem to matter because you are always taking care of everyone in the office. And your age doesn’t matter either because you are the best at the company. You are strong, confident and you never hesitate to make a decision. You also can be aggressive at times; but you also tend to have a calming effect on the team. You are a natural-born leader, an excellent communicator and the go-to-person in the office for everything from work-related advice to personal issues.

You could be the next BIG boss—joining the increasing number of women poised to break through the glass ceiling within the next 20 years. The question is: are you up for the challenge?

Women Taking Care of Business

Because of your ability to get the job done, you may be able to follow in the footsteps of some of the nation’s top female CEOs someday. According to Forbes, there are 20 out of 500 men, currently leading the way. But it will not be easy; especially for a woman in the male-dominated board room. Needless to say, you will be tested. And you will have to be strong and lead with an iron fist.

In recent months, all eyes have been on General Motor’s CEO Mary Barra for her rapid response to the company’s failed recall that caused 13 fatalities over the course of a 10 year-period. And although Barra only took the reins of GM in January, she was quick to address the faulty ignition switch issues— in over 2 million vehicles worldwide— head on. One of her first steps was to apologize to the families and the public. Then in April, she also apologized to Congress.

"Today’s GM will do the right thing," Barra told the House committee. "That begins with my sincere apologies to everyone who has been affected by this recall, especially the families and friends (of those) who lost their lives or were injured. I am deeply sorry."

Barra also ordered an internal review of the company. And in June, she followed that action with a televised press conference where she announced the firing of 15 high-level executives and disciplinary actions for five more for "incompetence and neglect". However, despite GM’s challenges, Barra remains widely respected by many women for her leadership skills, transparency, and the way she has conducted herself during the crisis. By the way, how do you handle yourself under pressure?

Costs to be the Boss

Another female CEO who has made recent headlines is Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer. The former Google executive was under fire last month for keeping a group of high-profile investors in Cannes waiting for over two hours. Mayer, who later apologized about being late to the dinner engagement, said that she simply “overslept”. But it wasn’t the first time that the 39-year-old has landed in the spotlight.

In 2013, she was highly criticized for her spread in Vogue and for putting a halt to the company’s work-from-home policy. In 2012 when she took control of the company, she was six months pregnant. The problem, however, is when Mayer cut much of her maternity leave to just a few weeks.

“Her statement sets a bad precedent for other new moms and the corporations they work for that will now expect that to be normal maternity-leave behavior,” Deena Rosenberg, 29, of Teaneck, N.J., told USAToday. “The reality is that the initial days and weeks after having a baby is a difficult time physically and emotionally, and is also crucial to the formation of the mother-child bond.”

Rosenberg, who left her first baby at home to go back work because the 12-week maternity leave ended, joined the group of women who expressed concern about Mayer’s decision. How will you balance the demands of work and life?

Women Gain R-E-S-P-E-C-T

Despite the struggles that today’s female CEOs face, the future looks a whole lot brighter for you and for the other women who aspire to lead one day. According to a 2013 Chief Executive Study, conducted by Strategy&, women are projected to increasingly progress to more leadership roles with one-third representing more major companies by 2040.

“Women CEOs are still rare — just 3 percent of this year’s incoming class — but they are becoming more prevalent, and we expect that trend to accelerate. By 2040, we project that women will make up about a third of new CEO appointments,” said the report’s authors.

Since the Feminist Movement, women have been fighting for issues such as equal pay and maternity leave. Although the battle continues, women have made significant strides in the workplace. So continue to develop that “maternal instinct” at your current company. And regardless of what anyone says, it’s a good thing. And where ever you may end up in your career, continue to demonstrate your competence and overall effectiveness. For one day, you too can lead the pack.