As you might remember, International Women’s Day was celebrated last month (Friday, March 8 to be exact), so it’s an appropriate time to visit the topic of women in the workplace.
Four women talking
I attended a 1-hour corporate event recently that involved 4 female employees at various points in their career talking about their experiences in the workplace. One of the benefits of working at a democratically-minded corporation is that, although the event was focused on career development among the female workforce all employees are entitled to attend. The event was titled “She speaks…” and it was quite eye-opening.
No male bashing needed
The event wasn’t an hour of unadulterated male-bashing, nor was it an hour of unadulterated “Girl Power”. Instead all four women talked about the realities of working in male-dominated work groups, reporting to male and female managers, dealing with unique workplace pressures, and in some instances making career-supporting decisions with their spouses where their spouse become the stay-at-home family member.
When asked what they would tell their younger selves if they could rewind the years, one explained that she would encourage her younger self to be more confident. Maybe it’s a trait that goes back to the traditional nurturing role for women and the hunter/gatherer role for men but she talked about how, as a manager, her male direct reports were very comfortable with stating their career goals and expectations during 1:1 meetings whereas her female direct reports were often more hesitant to be so direct and forceful. It may seem like such a simple trait but a lack of confidence can cause anyone to miss career opportunities simply because they were not confident enough in their abilities to either take a change or not confident enough to seek out a mentor.
Promote your daughter(s)
I don’t have any kids but I am becoming more sensitized to how parents with a daughter(s) need to promote them more in all aspects of life. That shouldn’t mean reducing the attention paid to one’s son(s) get; it means that both genders should be receiving the same level of attention and promotion. If we want to see gender equality in the future workplace we need to start seeing happening in the home.