Being a woman in the workforce can be rewarding, exhilarating and fabulous……. most of the time.
However, there are certain challenges that women face that are different from the challenges that men face. Working women who have children experience even more demands on time, energy and resources.
For example, traditionally, men have been thought of as being the providers for their families, so if they spent more time at the office, networking etc, they are valued for their drive and praised for their successes. Women are more likely to be praised for being good wives and mothers.
Men are expected to be aggressive in business – to be go-getters. They are not often as criticized for putting work ahead of family because by working hard, they are providing for their families.
Women are assumed to be more docile and less effective in business (something that statistics show is not accurate). When women strive to achieve success they are often criticized that thier success comes at the expense of their families.
In most societies around the world, men are given slack that women are not afforded when it comes to defining the roles the should play in life. And when men “have it all”, it is an honable thing, but when women “have it all” their values and priorities are questioned.
Gender bias is real and women are often unprepared to navigate the difficulties. Here are 10 ways you can battle gender bias:
1. Be assertive……not aggressive. Assertiveness has to do with having an “attitude of confidence.” It is an
attitude of self-respect; it is an attitude of respecting other people’s rights. It is an aura of confidence. When you are assertive, you not only ensure that your needs are met to get the job done, but you actually help others be more efficient and effective.
2. Be confident. Confidence can be described as a belief in one’s self and one’s ability to succeed.
3. Admit your mistakes, and learn from them.
4. Accept compliments graciously. “Thanks, I really worked hard on that. I’m pleased you recognize my efforts.”
5. Do what you believe to be right, even if others mock or criticize you for it.
6. Be willing to take risks and go the extra mile to achieve better things.
7. Kill negative thoughts. Goes hand-in-hand with the above item, but it’s so important that I made it a separate item. You have to learn to be aware of your self-talk, the thoughts you have about yourself. Know yourself and you will win all battles. – Sun Tzu
8. Focus on solutions. If you are a complainer, or focus on problems, change your focus now. Focusing on solutions instead of problems is one of the best things you can do for your confidence and your career.
9. Empower yourself with knowledge. Empowering yourself, in general, is one of the best strategies for building self-confidence.
10. Self Promotion. Be prepared with an elevator pitch. When asked, “What are you working on now?,” don’t talk
about personal ventures or weekend plans; talk about your job’s project milestones.
What can others do to STOP Gender Bias?
STOP Denial- To mainstream gender equity, we need to avoid denial by first listening and accepting, in order to enable discussion.
• STOP Diminishing- This is when we diminish the problem by saying something like: “You’re making too big a deal out of it.”
• Stop Defending- If we find ourselves using the phrase “I’m sure they didn’t mean it that way” then we need to stop, reflect and reconsider our perspective.
• DO- Proactively to put systems and practices in place that reduce bias and promote equality and diversity.
• DO -Make gender equality part of training and education.
• DO- Speak up when you see it happening!
Lastly, two of the most effective tools in overcoming challenges working women face include networking and finding a mentor.