Being the “only” one in the room continues to be a common experience for women globally in the workplace. 51% of women who work with men have felt under pressure to prove their competence compared with 20% of men in the same situation. Micro aggressive behavior is experienced as well, such as over exaggerated criticisms of work, bullying, harassment, stealing of ideas, intentional exclusion from meetings both technical and social, and discarded suggestions only to be brought up in another meeting.
While I am talking about work the same applies in the home, school, or with clients and partners in your business. To be honest, these experiences can happen within any environment in which you
are confident in your belief that you are not worthy or capable enough to have what you want. Subconsciously, you put a shade over your light to avoid criticism, but you are still being criticized. According to a study by the Institute of Leadership and Management, one in five women lose confidence in themselves at work. But you deserve better! So, take ownership of understanding your environment and what you can do to claim your independence and excel whether in the workplace or home.
Men created the rules of the game in the workplace and in the home with women joining their game with truly little to say about changing the rules. Their game, their rules. Too many men lead from the perspective of ego to get the upper hand. They “outwardly” display confidence through self-esteem, self-importance, self-confidence, self-worth, self-respect, and self-image. I stress outwardly because men also have their own insecurities and may not be as confident as you might assume. Confidence is displayed by 1) articulating experiences, 2) stating they are good, instrumental, and why, and 3) a willingness to talk over each other to be heard. This results in more men getting the mission critical roles.
Women are playing in a game with rules not made in their favor, i.e., family considerations. They play to enjoy the experience and collaboration while also wanting to win. Reflect on:
How You Speak:
Question mark statements, apologize for making misstatements or mistakes, downplay your recommendations, and use qualifiers when speaking. Here are some examples. Most men rarely do these things.
Question Mark Statements:
Kamala Harris, VP candidate in US did not ask in her debate with Mike Pence, VP, when he constantly interrupted her, “Can I speak?” She said, “I am speaking!”
Be apologetic about the right things not everything. Note how often you apologize in a day.
• Inserting the words, i.e., “I ‘just’ think” is too apologetic or you seem surprised. Say clearly: “I think!”
• “I am no expert but” undermines your position.
• Asking: “Am I making sense, or does this make sense?” It is either condescending or admitting you are incoherent in how you speak.
“I know this may not be the right time or the right solution but…” How can you say it differently?
How You Interact:
Do you know your power, i.e., the strength of your voice, the firmness of your handshake, your stance, how you walk in and out of a room, how you engage, ask questions, bring out your personality, and the strength of who you are? Or are you silent, blending in, afraid to meet someone outside your level?
How You Work:
While you work to be perfect, men have already applied for the job, submitted the proposal, made the appointment, or asked for the raise. If there are five criteria to apply for a job, men will apply with one criterion while you wait to have four and even then, will not apply. You make decisions believing you are not ready, afraid to ask for what you deserve -women are 30% less likely to ask for a raise. Women believe respect must be earned while most men expect respect is automatic. In the workplace, women can be perceived that they cannot travel due to children, too high maintenance,
emotional, or ask too many questions.
Women leaders can be misinterpreted to be micro-managers when collaborative and sidelined. All of this impacts your confidence and cognitive performance. Success in a man’s world is not about changing the man. It is knowing what you need to change within yourself to work in the existing environment or leave the environment to one more amenable all while driving change to make new and better rules of the game.
There are three keys to your success when working in a man’s world, commitment,
courage, and communication:
Commitment to Making Growth Your Highest Priority:
How clear and committed you are to
achieve your goal? What are you willing
to learn and sacrifice?
Focus on what you can learn about
yourself – your emotions, how you
respond/react to situations, who you
blame for your situation, who are you
judging. Blaming men will not take you
far. Focus on what you can control.
Focus on understanding the environment
in which you work and live and
identify what it takes to ensure success.
Close any gaps that could prohibit your
success and act.
You must be committed to the growth of other women. Courage to stretch yourself beyond your fears and act. Take responsibility for where you are and what you need to do to improve your outcome. Be authentic with a twist. If you are not comfortable speaking up, speaking with, walking in, and acting in confidence have the courage to improve your areas of weakness through action. Operate with integrity and stand firm in your conviction. Communicate in a way that does not allow men to dominate the conversation. This is done by adding value, building win/win relationships, and creating opportunities. A support system of trusted colleagues (men and women) can bring you into the conversation. Do not wait to be asked. If you are not in a good place emotionally, breathe then speak. You choose your intention before speaking or acting. Communicate from a position of strength. You have contributed to make this world a better place. You deserve better! Better is waiting for you!
“It’s a man’s world! But it wouldn’t be nothing without a woman or a girl!”-James Brown