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It is time to lean in ladies. I’ve been reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In along with Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Can you tell? As a leader in corporate America that happens to be female, I love the book. Its amazing to me that in 2017, the struggles for women in business remain. Misogyny in the workplace is a thorny, unpleasant issue, but we need to talk about it.
When I first took on a leadership role, my boss asked if I was willing to sacrifice time away from family and kids. First of all, the question was a bit inappropriate. My work speaks for itself and is never left unfinished. Secondly, this questions was never asked to my my male counterparts. In fact, they found it quite odd that I was. This leads me to question if the fact that I’m a mom, a hockey mom at that, is an impediment to my career. Is this something that those above me consider when succession planning?
I would argue that the question is inappropriate regardless of the gender of the person being asked. A person’s work product and work ethic speak to their commitment to the company. The worker’s life outside of the company is not germane to the conversation.
There are number of stereotypes that inhibit women from closing the leadership gap in this country. If a man gets emotional in a meeting, he is dubbed passionate. In contrast If a women gets emotional in meeting, she is dubbed a train wreck. If a man is aggressive, he is applauded. Whereas If a women is aggressive, she is told to back off and stopped being so aggressive.
About a year ago, two male co-workers interrupted a conversation between me and my colleague a friend and I. These leaders insisted my friend was not nearly as aggressive she needed to be to get things done. On the other hand, they felt I was too aggressive. I shut them down immediately. They can’t have it both ways.
What is my ideal workplace? It is an environment where I can work with my incredible team and have my contributions and my team’s contributions noted and appreciated. In my ideal workplace, the thunder thief does not exist. What do women want? They want a seat at the table. They want the ability to contribute to the organization in a meaningful way with a clear path to success. In addition, women notice the way other women are treated in the organization. With each women whose contributions are minimized, with each women who is passed over; the women of the organization notice and see their path diminished.
Finally, ladies this one is for you. Mean girls belong in middle school, not in corporate America. Name calling, manipulation and other middle school games have no place. When we treat each other poorly, it opens the door to more mistreatment. Treat your fellow women with respect and support each other or go back to middle school.