[Words by Inge Woudstra]
Are you keen to get ahead? Then you know it’s not easy.
Sometimes it seems a lot easier for men, and you may feel that women have to work twice as hard and be twice as good.
Let me tell you that it isn’t just you. Many women feel the same. I believe this is because men and women are different, and organisations are designed for men.
Our brains, psychology and hormones are different. Furthermore we grow up in a society that has different norms for men and women. As a result we behave differently and are motivated and inspired differently. Asking women to be successful in an organisation designed for men is like asking a fish to climb a tree. It’s exhausting, and you have to grow arms and gills in the process.
I suggest you do it differently.
Why not ? That is Gender Smart working. Here are four ways to help you get started.
Speak Up about your way of working.
Men and women are different, we can do the same jobs and achieve the same but we often go about it in a different way. The way women work tends to be more intangible; it’s about facilitating, involving others and subtle influencing and can be less visible. Therefore you need to speak up about your way of working.
Evaluate how you achieve results.
Once you know, communicate your approach to your team and your manager. Once the job is done recount which results you have achieved and how they came about.
Be aware of how you bring value and..speak up about it.
Women’s brains are more connected than those of men. As a result men tend to focus on one task, whereas women tend to look at the big picture and for instance see connections with other projects or impacts on clients. This can be hugely valuable as it breaks through silo-thinking, leads to better decisions and eliminates unnecessary tasks.
Women tend to have a consultative style of working, asking, ‘What do you think?’ Men tend to have a more directive style, ‘This is what we will do’. A consultative style draws in a range of expertise, leads to more buy-in and more resilient decisions.
Reflect on how you bring value.
Are you good at seeing the bigger picture, do you have a consultative style? Observe how your strengths bring value to your team and help you achieve results. Once you know, it will be easier to speak up about your achievements and build your profile.
Relate to What Works for Men.
When you talk about your way of working, and how you bring value, it’s important that the men you work with can hear you. Make sure you relate to their priorities and interests.
Bring short messages; the focussed male brain usually prefers short pieces of information, relating to one topic. Focus on end-results. Present information in data, graphs and images.
How to Make it Work for You
Of course we are all individuals, and you are not like other women. The man you are working with is not like other men either. So there isn’t one answer to how to get ahead.
Being Gender Smart is all about applying gender differences to you and your situation, and trying out what works to help you get ahead.
[Published by WiC on behalf of Inge Woudstra of W2O Consulting and Training]