Let’s talk about the glass ceiling for women in the workplace. Is there still one, and if so, what does it mean for women?
What IS a glass ceiling anyway? It’s defined as: “an intangible barrier within a hierarchy that prevents women or minorities from obtaining upper-level positions.”
“The Glass Ceiling is cracked, not broken” says Forbes.com contributor Amy Jadesimi. While there is a “mountain of data showing that diversity in general, including equality in female leadership of companies, significantly increases profitability, only 4% of Fortune 500 companies are run by women.”
So clearly we have work to do to change that mindset about how capable women are, anywhere in the workplace!
My guest on the FB Live “Little White Lie” show is a shining example of a woman who has fearlessly entered a male-dominated industry and succeeded by any standard. Watch the show here for the full version, including the awesome participation by our brilliant Little White Lie fans. Thank you for your great questions, LWLiars!
I’m talking about Capt. Sandy Yawn, currently the cruise captain on Bravo’s hit reality series Below Deck Mediterranean.
Sandy is one of a handful of female captains in the yachting industry, with over 27 years of leading yacht charters all around the world. She’s moved to the top of her industry, having weathered it all from being chased down by pirates to surviving cancer.
The Little White Lie movement is all about the lies we tell ourselves about getting old and being beautiful, vital, visible, and purposeful (no matter what society “tells” us). Each week I invite my guests to share their stories, expertise, tools, and tips on how we can all embrace our authentic selves and love the age we’re in.
And I always start with this question…
LWL: What is your Little White Lie?
Sandy: Oh my! My little white lie is I’m 52 and I still think I’m 12. I want to jump a fence and I want to run like I was 12. I really can’t. My sister can attest to this because every time I want to meet her, it’s always at Disney World. I don’t know, I just really want to be able to have the energy of a 12-year old.
LWL: What is it like being a woman in a man’s world? Do you feel like there’s a glass ceiling, and if so, did you break it in the maritime industry?
Sandy: I fell into [the industry]. I was a kid who was lost, and I had a mentor who believed in me. I didn’t think about it and just went for it. As I advanced in my career, I found it difficult to move [to any other career].
In terms of the glass ceiling I just stay focused on my priorities. Yes, people question me, people challenge me. I just keep my eye on the ball. That’s what I do. I don’t really care what they think and don’t actually think about male or female. I just think, I have a job to do and I do it.
Whoever gets in my way, I try to navigate around that. That’s really what I do.
LWL: Was there ever a time when you were treated differently because you’re a woman? Discriminated against?
Sandy: I was turned down for a couple of jobs because I’m a woman. The first time, I thought to myself, “Why? I’m great at navigating. It’s a skillset. I learned it. And I’m also great with decision-making.”
I was curious why I was turned down for the position.
The yacht manager [who made that decision] was honest with me — he could have been dishonest and said they found another captain, but he told me why, for which I was very grateful. I didn’t take it out on him. Was I aware of it? Only when the manager told me. Other than that, no. They’re very good at hiding it.
So I thought, “Wow, I guess we just need to go back in and reeducate the people who think that a woman can’t do this.” I reached out to a friend of mine and we held a ‘Women in Yachting’ seminar at the Monaco Yacht Club.
LWL (listener question): What are some of your go-to inner-game tools to keep yourself moving forward?
Sandy: My go-to inner-game tools are what I learned after I stopped drinking, which was stop, breathe, and think of the best solution. Every time. I don’t react. Instead, I just stop and take a breath. I think about what’s going to be my end result. A lot of times, say I’m in a navigation situation where I lose the ball thrust in the engine, I have clients watching me.
That’s when I just take a breath and think, “I have to do it,” and so I do it.
LWL (listener question): Did you find that it was always men you were challenged by, or were there other women who didn’t necessarily support your advancement?
Sandy: I found that some women were jealous, which is not great. But oftentimes, for me, I really didn’t think about it being male or female. All I did was keep my eye on the ball. I knew what my goal was, and I never looked side-to-side.
What I found most comical was when I was docking a boat — all the men would run outside and watch me. I just blew them a kiss or winked at them. What can they do? I just docked the boat.
I think they were waiting for me to crash.
LWL: Do you think in your job that you, as a woman, bring something slightly different to the table?
Sandy: Absolutely, yes. For me at sea, I have these crew members [I’m responsible for leading]. I think women are great at multitasking. I think we’re more compassionate. We actually see the big picture. Whereas men … in my experience I’ve noticed they have blinders on. Yeah, I think we’re better leaders.
LWL (listener question): What do you think is the ideal way to introduce what you do to more African American women? I know there are very few who even know that they have an opportunity to get into this field.
Sandy: Through Facebook Live experiences like this. I was on the Steve Harvey Show, and he also asked this question. My answer to him: “By being on your show, I’m able to reach out to every viewer who’s watching this and say guess what? This is an industry that’s not closed.
It’s actually open for anyone who wants to get into the maritime world.”
In fact, we have a deficit of crew with the amount of vessels being built today. It’s an amazing industry. It’s not just working on a boat. There are designers, naval architects, etc. And you don’t have to be a college graduate to do this — it’s vocational training.
I’m not a college graduate. In fact, I was one of those kids who was kicked out of high school! This industry, I would say, just grabbed me, held me, and molded me to the person I am today.
I have to say I feel like I’m in the best industry in the world.
LWL (listener question): Did you ever have to compromise the fact that you are a beautiful woman in terms of being seen, being heard, and have to keep in the shadows just because you’re a woman?
Sandy: Oh my God, yes. I’ll give an example: the Red Sea Fire. We took the boat to Italy — a macho country. I’m at the head of the table. There are probably 15 men surrounding the table and we’re negotiating a five-million-euro deal. The shipyard owner would never address me! I finally just thought, “OK, I can’t get his attention,” so I stood up. I said, “This meeting is over because you are actually not even addressing the person who makes the decisions. If you want to do that, then give me a call. Otherwise, I’m going to the shipyard Alpha Marine (which is next door).”
He switched gears like that [snap].
LWL: Any last thoughts that you want to share with our audience?
Sandy: I am going to do this I Believe Tour. I’m going to go around the country speaking about how I became a yacht captain, just like with you here. Like me, anyone who really believes that they can do it, can! That’s what I love about this country, and I have visited a lot of countries. America is a great country. I love that we are given the opportunity to believe in anything and whatever we believe in, we can do. Sign up at CaptainSandyYawn.com to find out where I’ll be touring.
A shout out to some of the listeners who joined us live on the show to ask some great questions of Sandy:
So, Little White Liars, aren’t you inspired?
Do you believe there’s a glass ceiling for women in the workplace? If so, how do you feel we should deal with it? Join the conversation with the Little White Lie Movement community! Here’s how:
1) Answer the question or comment below.
2) Take my survey on www.TheLittleWhiteLie.com where you see the question: “What is your biggest concern about aging?”
3) Share your thoughts on Facebook and use the hashtag #LittleWhiteLie.
Thanks for joining the Little White Lie Movement!