“Women will fight for everyone but themselves” Lynda Obst
Men like to promote men. It’s still there and women need to address it. These tips below can help women in business to break through their glass ceiling
1. Enjoy what you do
People who have more fun are happier. Happier people are more successful because they are more confident and more pleasant to be around.
2. Working hard won’t get you noticed
It takes more than hard work to get you noticed. You need to self promote – tell others about projects you’re involved in. Tell them your successes, what you’re good at. Get people used to associating your name with success. It is this that will gain you the recognition you want to succeed. Don’t assume that because you are working hard that others will know this.
3. Learn to communicate differently
Women like to discuss things, talk issues through, and verbalise their thoughts freely and as they occur. This can appear uncertain, indecisive and at times a lack of confidence. Men tend to get straight to the point, particularly in meetings. Watch how men communicate in business, and adopt different strategies that incorporate this style in situations where you are not having the success you want.
In one experiment, Linda C. Babcock, a professor at Carnegie Mellon University, recruited volunteers to play a board game. She told the volunteers ahead of time that they would receive $2 to $10 for their time. At the end, she gave them $3 and asked if that was enough. Men were eight times more likely to ask for more money than women. In another set up, in which participants were told that the salary was negotiable, 50% of women asked for more money — but so did 83% of men. Women need to recognize their skills, and know their worth, and not be afraid to make demands. Speak up and don’t avoid confrontations. Knowing you are paid what you are worth can strengthen your mental resilience and help you address other challenges.
5. Be Versatile in your conversation topics
Learn to engage in a variety of conversations. It still seems to be the case in many businesses that men unwittingly dictate what constitutes ‘good conversation’. You may not like sport, but find out about it so that you can engage in some of the conversations your male colleagues are having. Relationships are built on connections and things we have in common, and women need to engage in some of these conversations to access the ‘club’.
6. Project confidence
Others will treat you the way you treat yourself. You teach people how you want to be treated; if you’re self-confident, firm and self-assured, people will be less likely to take advantage of you. Make eye contact with everyone. Speak clearly and succinctly. Recognise your strengths and feel comfortable recognising them. Women are more likely to avoid eye contact, which can appear as being weak. They are also more likely to nod their head to show that they are paying attention, but that is often misperceived as agreement and submissiveness. Hold your own in conservation and project yourself confidently.
Men are much less likely than women to leave work during their prime years in order to raise children. As such, more men have more and better contacts than most women. While it might be nice to join a group of women professionals in order to have a support group, when it comes to networking, join networks that get you in front of the right people, such as the decision makers. Attend social functions; get your face known and your name recognised. When considering people for a particular project or a promotion, we tend to go with people we are familiar with or are known in our circle. Leadership development for women requires effective networking.
8. Get a Mentor
Research shows that a lot of men don’t mentor women unless it is their daughter or a friend’s daughter. Women will. Any woman who’s at or near the top has inevitably worked closely with male colleagues because that’s who is at the top. Women can learn from their male colleagues, but that’s not the same as a mentoring relationship. Although male executive’s occasionally will mentor a female employee, the statistics overwhelmingly support the notion that it is largely women who are willing to enter into a progressive and developmental work relationship of showing another woman employee the ropes and how things “really work”.However, you need to choose a mentor who can address your needs so choose a person who can give you invaluable insight into the business you are in, or hoping to access. Consider having more than one mentor so you can access different people for different issues.
9. Get a Sponsor
A more intensive type of mentoring known as sponsorship occurs when mentors take on a more involved role and persuade executives to consider their mentees for promotion along with training and modelling for mentees. Research shows that women don’t usually have this kind of relationship with their mentors. This lack of intense relations results in women being overlooked for promotions or not applying because they are hesitant. To find a sponsor, rather than a mentor, look for someone who can offer guidance on how to develop better skills. Someone who is willing to advocate and introduce you to key people.
10. Help Other Women
As you progress in your career help other women with their development – don’t get a reputation as the woman who pulled the ladder up behind her. “There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women” Madeleine K. Albright.
“If you acknowledge the importance and power of your ambition, recognise that it is there to drive you to greater achievements and sustain you through the challenges, and if you couple it with competence, hard work and the morality you learned at your mother’s knee, you can defeat the insidious erosion of feeling inadequate, the fear of being in charge, the doubts that we all have about our capacity to lead” Judy Elder, speaking at the WTN Gift of Wisdom Series, Toronto Board ofTrade, March 7, 2002.
Talk with Muika Leadership about out training courses and expertise with women in business.
Karen Murphy is the women in business and leadership expert at leadership training company Muika Leadership. Karen specialises in Leadership Development for Women and has been helping business women to break through their ‘glass ceiling’ for the past 20 years at some of the UK’s largest organisations.