When considering the dynamics between cis-gendered men and women in the workplace, the “advice” available in the media on this topic is terrible. Women are told to drink beer, avoid conflict, be kind, learn to golf, keep your personal life private and of course, soften yourself in voice and appearance so you are more attractive to men. Where do we go from this crock of horse manure?!
Crina and Kirsten have discussed the research on women’s behaviors in the workplace and how women excel in almost every leadership capacity. This research is established and has been replicated. It is clear – men and women behave differently in the workplace. Those differences can create conflict.
How do we manage these behavioral differences without drinking beer, playing golf and being less of ourselves? We found some pretty interesting strategies – and some backed my research.
- Surround yourself with powerful, female role models. When we see others like us, we are more comfortable with ourselves and less likely to bend to satisfy someone else’s expectations of us. Seeing is believing: Exposure to counterstereotypic women leaders and its effect on the malleability of automatic gender stereotyping – ScienceDirect
- Connect, reach out, mentor, offer advice, and share power with other women. Rather than diminishing influence, this openness to and sharing with other women seems to multiply impact and creates an environment where female influence at work is not a source of tension or conflict. Why Sharing Power At Work Is The Very Best Way To Build It (fastcompany.com)
- Remain true to yourself, but be open. women recognize others will have different perspectives and they listen. Persuading rather than preaching is almost always a better approach – with men or women.
- Set boundaries and don’t burn yourself out: we are most effective and our best at work when we have a rich, full life outside of work.
- Pitch-in, if that’s what you want to do. It’s ok to get the coffee because you’re kind and human.
- Slow down, which allows you to assess what is going on rather than defaulting to the tapes that pay in your head and the stories that society has told you about who you should be in the workplace.
- Get really good at failure – our work culture is not set up for women – acknowledge when something goes wrong, and ask yourself why it went wrong and how you can change it to move forward.
Some more good reads:
How men’s and women’s brains are different | Stanford Medicine
Research-Based Advice for Women Working in Male-Dominated Fields (hbr.org)
Battle of the Brain: Men Vs. Women [Infographic] | Northwestern Medicine
These are the 7 surprising things I’ve learned from working with powerful women