Helping women be heard & claim their seat at the leadership table
Over the last few days, I’ve been watching all the comments about the Vice-Presidential Debate. Not because I am polling people’s political stance, but rather because I’m curious about the perceptions of how the two candidates performed. I’ve been fascinated by the responses to Kamala Harris.
What I’m seeing looks a lot like gender bias and the fine line women walk when attempting to be assertive. This isn’t a new topic; I’ve seen articles going back to the mid-1980s on the perceived differences in how men and women leaders communicate. What’s is striking to me is that little seems to have changed in the last 25 years.
One description for this is that it is a double-bind for women. Most desirable leadership traits are masculine in nature: confident, bold, assertive, focused, decisive, among others. However, women are expected to be collaborative, empathetic, and compassionate. We have learned a bias that is gender based. Leaders are...
I walked into the conference room about 5 minutes before the meeting time. There were several guys already in the room chatting. I sat down at the table and said hi to a few that I knew. Several of the men in the room were giving me a side-eye look, obviously wondering why I dared to sit at the table. This was outside their experience for these weekly meetings. The women who attended sat in the back, along the wall and took notes. They didn’t sit at the “big boy” table. Wrong! As QA Manager had some items they needed to hear, and I was not sitting in the back. I belonged at the table just like they did. Once I was introduced and some of the senior men on my team deferred to me, attitudes changed, albeit slowly.
The reality was I was 25 years into my career and really didn’t care what the men in the room thought of me being in my role. I knew what I brought to the table and was comfortable with it. Honestly, it was kind of fun making some of them squirm.
Forcing someone to see things your way makes you a bully. Right now, there are a lot of issues that are emotional on all sides, whether it’s wearing a mask or not, school in person or virtual, peaceful protests or terrorists, a pandemic or a hoax and more. Many people are entrenched in their perspective and see anyone who disagrees as “the enemy” which leads to bullying, berating and belittling.
In these uncertain times we can all do ourselves a favor by being curious, being kind, and being humble. There is no one who has all the answers, situations are changing daily, more data is pouring in so stances shift, and stress is climbing for everyone. The confusion about what to do to return to work and school has stressed parents, communities and organizations. When we focus on finding information, seeking new perspectives and actively listening we can help reduce our stress.
Giving into the stress and fear can drive us to become rigid and unable to consider options....
You know that person, the one who when you ask them what time it is, they tell you about their watch, how it was made and why it’s the best watch EVER. They can be exhausting to deal with and yet they have great knowledge and all the data you need to back up their recommendation. So how do you find the right balance between too much information and too little?
Recognize that if someone is giving you more information than you want to hear it could be for a couple of reasons. First, it might be their style to be overly analytical and want to have all the data first. Second, they could have been taught to bring everything to the table in previous situations. Third, they lack confidence so they will give you everything to make sure they didn’t miss anything.
Here are 5 tips to help you manage the information flow: