Published on October 9th, 2015 | by Nancy F. Clark0
Women Finding Success In An Unequal Workplace
By Laura Lee—
Gender inequality has long been discussed in career conversations. Though we’ve made great progress, the issue has not been thoroughly addressed—or eradicated—and still remains a significant barrier.
A 2015 study conducted by Bain & Company found that as women gain more experience and exposure to upper management, their confidence plummets significantly (by 50%) where men in similar instances in their career experience a far less significant reduction (by 10%). The study noted that even in the earlier stages of career development, a woman’s sense of supervisor support decreased by 20% after two years of experience on the job, while her male counterpart’s was just 3% lower.
If confidence deteriorates and supervisor support decreases as women gain experience in the workplace, how can we excel at the same rate as our male counterparts? How can we level out the playing field?
Bridge The Divide?
There is no easy answer. However, there are ways that women can express themselves authentically to bridge the divide.
Men have a reputation of being aggressive and agile, especially when it comes to the workplace. They’ll speak their minds, share both big and small ideas, and take risks to complete tasks. Women tend to be more conscientious and thoughtful, yet we can still have our voices heard. If beating your chest isn’t innate to your personality, start from your true center. Wherever that may be, forming strong relationships with your supervisors and colleagues is critical. My strongest relationships in all my jobs have often been with key stakeholders in cross-functional capacities like Product or Legal, so developing a rapport with those individuals is paramount. Filter through the noise and focus on your goals and your career will build up around them. By grounding yourself in your center, your true voice will emerge and your confidence will undoubtedly follow. There are many voices that add to a rich chorus; make sure you find your sweet spot for your vocal range.
Be Proud Of Your Successes
Even with the grandest of resumes and professional accomplishments, women are less likely to praise themselves as openly as men are, for we unfortunately often get branded with less-than-appealing archetypes. But why? If men can speak to their endeavors, why do women shy away from the opportunity to present themselves as powerful, successful figures?
It comes down to the perception of one’s confidence—it’s not just about what you do, it’s about how you do it. It’s vital to give— and receive—credit where credit’s due. Be proud of your successes and acknowledge those of others. When you are honest and supportive of yourself and those around you, the rest will follow suit. Relationships you form and the culture you surround yourself with are essential to your success and the success of your team. If this doesn’t come naturally to you, seek out groups to help you find your sea legs.
I’m fortunate to be involved with Womensphere—a nurturing organization that helps unleash and inspire women’s potential leadership, creativity, and innovation in the world of business—where I’ve seen many women form close relationships with mentors across all fields.
Statistics show that women are often too timid to stand up for themselves. Though picking your battles is a necessary skill, it’s important to always stand up for yourself at crucial moments—not just in a crisis. Instead of falling into the “victim trap,” think through your options and take control. Don’t be afraid to go after what you want, but to approach it the right way by learning about your colleagues’ work styles, preferences, and personalities.
Don’t be afraid to think outside the box. My most rewarding group experiences have occurred when things “didn’t go the right way,” like when we were figuring out a technology solution for a launch-critical aspect of our YouTube Rentals launch. Being unafraid to say that the current plan isn’t working but coming up with viable options is critical. Keeping an open dialogue at all times will ensure you won’t be shut out of an opportunity that you are right for.
That being said, know when to say no. Saying yes to anything and everything doesn’t make you a great employee. Clearly understanding your role and executing that role with confidence is far more important when it comes to presenting your worth at a company. Push back when you need to.
Simply put, honesty and communication are keys to your success—with your boss, your coworkers and most importantly, yourself.