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How can gender work for you in the workplace?

Mind KEY / Career  / How can gender work for you in the workplace?
There are distinct, but equally valid, differences between the male and female dollar. By Charla Dury

How can gender work for you in the workplace?

Kaylee Gelenius, WPUNJ student writer

Women have been looking for equal recognition in the workplace for decades. Even though more women have risen to high-ranking positions, they have yet to enjoy the same success as men. The Institute for Women’s Policy Research (IPWR) states that as of 2015, women still earn 20 percent less than their male counterparts.  Differences between gender diversity at work are equally stark on the personal front. Business executives are just beginning to understand how to wield the different gender qualities to their corporation’s advantage.


While a balance between the gender qualities in a workplace is an idea that businesses are looking to instill, today’s world often associates only masculine attributes with success. However, various studies and scholarly articles have proven that each gender brings particular strengths to the workplace.

 

Gender diversity at work

How women work:

 

They’re persuasive. Women leaders scored significantly higher than male leaders in persuasiveness and assertiveness.

 

According to a 2005 white paper from Caliper Corp, a professional service consulting company, “The strong people skills possessed by women leaders enable them to read situations accurately and take in information from all sides. This willingness to see all sides of a situation enhances their persuasive ability.”

 

They work well in teams. A 2005 report  on gender prejudice by Catalyst, organization seeking to to accelerate progress for women through workplace inclusion, found that women leaders are perceived to be more supportive and rewarding, whereas men are deemed better at behaviors such as delegating and how quickly they can be promoted. The aforementioned Caliper study, found that women also demonstrated higher levels of compassion and team-building skills. 

 

They’re overachievers. Women are likely to work longer hours than their male counterparts. Women work 39 more days per year, according to report on gender equality the World Economic Forum released in October 2016. They also expressed greater willingness to work on vacation compared to men. Females were also less likely to spend their sick days.

 

They tell the story first. Women want to base their opinions and conclusions in a strong context.  Belief Coach, Wendy Watson-Hallowell said that women tend to talk about how they formed their opinion or conclusion by first telling the story or circumstance that led them to it, then making their point. This can be frustrating for men who just want to get right to the conclusion at the beginning of the conversation, not at the end. Wendy said this frustrated and often impatient response from men can leave women feeling unimportant and unheard. However, the truth is that both storytelling methods hold value for all members of the workplace.

 

How men work:

They are upfront about what they want.  A 2016 report compiled by LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Company called  Women in the Workplace found  that women who negotiate for a promotion or compensation increase are 30% more likely (than men who negotiate) to receive feedback that they are “bossy,” “too aggressive,” or “intimidating.”

 

They fake it, until they make it. Based on his experiences in the classroom, Charles Craver, a George Washington University law professor, wrote in his essay,  The Impact of Gender on Bargaining Interactions, that “Males tend to convey more confidence than women in performance-oriented settings…Even when minimally prepared, men believe they can ‘wing it’ and get through successfully. On the other hand, no matter how thoroughly prepared women are, they tend to feel unprepared.” 

 

They are goal driven.  Men tend to acquire more promotions than women, and data from the aforementioned Women in the Workplace report suggests this is due to more men wanting to become top executives. 40% of women are interested in “climbing the corporate ladder,” compared to 56% of men. The report also found that women and men worry equally about work-life balance and company politics. The Harvard Business Review article,  Why Men Still Get More Promotions than Women, states that this is because men are more likely to be mentored by senior executives and women are more likely to have junior-level mentors.


They start with the point. Men lead with their opinions and conclusions and don’t often explain how they came to them, Wendy said.  They rarely feel it necessary to include all of the details that led them to it. Women want to understand “why” and often become frustrated in in trying to discover information behind the conclusion made.  This frustration can leave men feeling like they have to justify their perspective and that there is some issue with just stating it.

 

While the research does reflect some differences, men and women’s professional qualities are not only black and white. There is plenty information proving that both sexes can bring qualities that are useful at work. Therefore, it’s evident for employers to embrace the strengths from both sexes, rather than only masculine attributes. We must highlight our best qualities throughout our time in the office, in order for this to become the new normal in working environments.

 

Regardless of gender, we can begin to acknowledge that we each have our own way of operating. There isn’t a wrong or right way about it–even when it is socially conditioned. Wendy said that when we don’t understand another’s motivation, we often take it personally by making the situation mean something that isn’t really true. Instead, try to understand that it’s our limiting beliefs that get in our way of operating successfully, regardless of gender. When we stop taking what others do personally, our perspective can shift to meet them where they are.

 

Interested in learning how our established beliefs can hold us back in the workplace? Discover Wendy Watson-Hallowell, the Belief Coach, at www.belief-works.com and take the “Owning your True Power” quiz, or get started with coaching today.

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