Let's face it ladies. The fight’s not fair in the business world.
We may be picking away at the salary gap but we still only earn 77 cents to every man’s dollar,
according to the U.S. Census Bureau. And despite filling more seats at business school,
fewer than 3 percent of Fortune 1000 CEOs are women.
So how does bias run rampant in the boardroom?
Long story short, men and women are judged, rewarded, and even punished differently for doing the same job. Unjustified and unfair? Yes. But the harsh reality remains. The only way to climb the corporate ladder is to recognize how men control the power and alter your behaviour accordingly. You’ve got to play the game to get to the top. Here are a few common stereotypes, misperceptions and actions that encourage or maintain gender inequity.
1.Men are assertive. Women are aggressive.
It’s a hustle to the top, and the male-female power struggle usually leaves women with the short end of the sword. Males are raised to be cocky and competitive but if a woman dares adopt this “go-getter” attitude, she risks being branded as domineering and difficult. Macho men have a vested interest in keeping women reserved and compliant so they’re quick to call out a bold, budding female executive. There’s a fine line between scrappiness and combativeness — one that men rarely have to walk.
2.Men are passionate. Women are emotional.
There’s no crying in the boardroom. Alpha males pounce on a sensitive woman like it’s their job. But I’m not just talking about a massive meltdown in the middle of a meeting. Everyday emotions get misconstucted. For example, if a man gets irate and defensive over a differing opinion, he’s applauded for being steadfast and strong. When a woman raises her voice or offers a critique, she’s the disagreeable hothead of the group.
3.Men scream. Women mutter.
Effective communication is the only way to get ahead. But it’s hard to get a leg up if you’re never heard. Women are too easily drowned out by men’s more emphatic, direct speech, so pick up the bullhorn and demand attention. Tone is crucial but your expressions are equally important. Instead of taking the timid route — like asking everything in the form of a question — ditch the wishy-washy language and speak with conviction. If you don’t have the courage, fake it. Sit up straight, make eye contact, and jump in.
4.Men steer. Women support.
More often than not, women scrap any chance of progressing into leadership roles by languishing in assisting positions. Continuously volunteering for extra work and never telling colleagues “no” chains you in a supportive role. Those feminine characteristics that make you a great secretary — compassion, attentiveness — will make you a stellar CEO. Wrench yourself out of your comfort zone and enter the fray. Make a threatened male fight for that corner office.
5.Men are casual. Women are coquettes.
There's nothing like Casual Friday to magnify the differences in the way men and women are perceived. While men can roll up in khakis and a t-shirt, most casual wear remains taboo for the opposite sex. Wear a skirt instead of a pantsuit, too high of heels or splashy makeup and suddenly you’re the office “floozy,” unfit for a leadership role. Your clothing is scrutinized more so than men’s. And unfortunately, your female counterparts are doing a lot of the eyeballing.
So what’s an ambitious woman to do?
Knowing that office gender politics still exist is half the battle but there are things you can do to break into the boy’s club.