It’s a sad state of affairs that women face significantly more issues than their male counterparts within the workplace. Bridging the gender gap can be a formidable task when facing this challenge alone – but in reality you are allied with thousands of women around the country against this issue. Some choose to develop their own methods; some take inspiration from the efforts of others – but approaching the problem head on and establishing a strong foundation will serve you throughout the rest of your career.
The Glass Ceiling
A central issue serving as a blockade to female advancement is the glass ceiling – an invisible barrier which prevents women from aligning themselves with the salaries, responsibilities and benefits of male counterparts in the same role. The glass ceiling can become stone when it comes to promotions, with many women feeling that they have been passed over despite having significantly over-achieved on their male colleagues. The weapon for shattering the glass ceiling is a dual-headed spear; of gaining respect and proving your worth.
Whilst it may feel galling to have to work three times as hard to be viewed as equal, that’s just the way it can be. Volunteer for every chance you get to prove yourself, interject with suggestions and meetings, make yourself heard and display your ultimate dedication and commitment to the cause. Take solace in that your hard work at this time can result in you being able to exact the changes you deem necessary, once you find yourself in a position of power. Become a pioneer of the office and help women of the future tackle the breach.
Accept everything thrown at you, throw out your chin and show that you can handle more. At the same time, don’t overload and give yourself too many assignments than you can handle. The façade could come crashing down around you if you overreach. A commonly held belief in psychological therapy reads;
“If you pretend to be something for long enough, that is what you become.”
This correlates perfectly into the business world – if you pretend to be a more capable and harder working individual than you are; providing you can balance the workload then this is exactly what you will become. Reputation plays a huge role – become known as the grafter, the problem solver, the one to go to. You want assignments given to you that others can’t handle, that bargaining chip is priceless in any negotiations for promotion or salary.
Clear lines of communication are essential between you, your colleagues and your superiors. Develop these immediately, in the early stages of employment and use your confidence in communication to build relationships. People skills can be the swinging pendulum in decisions on promotions and if you don’t develop a personable relationship with your manager – communication will only become more difficult the longer you leave.
One Step Ahead
Throughout the year keep track of your male associates and how much they are achieving on a weekly basis, if you feel that you are accomplishing more than they are but are still being paid less mention it at your annual review in a mature and concise manner. This is a simple way of making your manager aware of the gender difference without bringing it up directly. In all likelihood, your manager will likely be male and being confronted with these statistics can be unsettling to say the least. Tread carefully around this issue but stand your ground – this part comes much easier if you have already demonstrated that you are an integral cog to the business machine. You can’t be replaced.
Selective hearing seems to be an overarching talent of most successful men – but this is something you need to obliterate in your journey to equality. Do not be afraid to interrupt if you feel that your points are not being taken into consideration. Their hearing may be selective, but they’re not deaf. The stronger you come across in will and personality, the louder your voice will be heard; don’t back down or let them dictate the meeting. If you’re persistent they will respect you for it.
Meetings aren’t the only place where your voice should be heard, if you feel that you are being harassed in any way whilst in the work place you should immediately file a complaint. Your complaint can be something as simple as an account of the incident written on plain paper and handed to your manager, or it could be a formal interview. Either way you must report the situation and if you feel that no action has been taken, follow up the incident. Don’t sit idle.
The end game here is to be on contention for every opportunity for advancement. You want your name to be the first on the lips of your manager whenever something challenging or rewarding comes up. Facing the problems with the attitudes and actions outlined above – you should find yourself sailing past your male colleagues on merit, rather than languishing behind them through inequality.
Nikki Armytage is the founder of the The Lifestylist, a female led business coaching agency based in London. Dedicated to sharing her knowledge and experience, Nikki has a wealth of experience in combating the system and makes it her mission to educate others on the battle plan.
Image Credit: CC by International Labour Organization (ILO) Department of Communications