The blog-o-sphere is full of articles right now telling women how unfair the male-dominated workplace is towards women. We hear about how much harder we work but get fewer rewards, pay and promotions. We hear that women are viewed as abrasive and bossy. We hear that if we are not bossy, then we are timid and don’t project self-confidence. We hear that if women are confronted about their “poor behavior” we respond emotionally and irrationally. We hear that our male co-workers manterrupt us and take credit for our ideas. We hear that we are damned if we do and damned if we don’t.
The overall message out there is that the world is working against women. The more subtle message is that we are victims of the male-dominated workplace.
My message to you is that you are not a victim and that you cannot view the male-dominated workplace as being against you. If you do you will never get anywhere!
I know all of the difficulties of being a woman in the male-dominated workplace. This past week I was reminded again that I’ve never had the title of Sr. Project Manager even though I have carried 5 large projects at once and been in charge of a $100 million project which by any industry standards warrants the title of Sr. Project Manager. While I was carrying the 5 projects, I had the company check my pay against the other Project Managers of my level and found that I was the lowest paid by 20%. I was not compensated with a pay increase but only an additional stipend while I worked on those projects that brought me up to par with the average pay of my male colleagues.
I’ve even been given a bonus of a pedicure and manicure for myself and my daughters while all of the men got trips for their families. I had the same manager distribute the graphic write-up of a sexual harassment complaint to other managers who stopped him from including it as an attachment to a larger complaint to a client.
I’ve been back-stabbed, front-stabbed and sabotaged by younger male colleagues overly-eager to take my job.
When the young men take me on and try to take over my job, I’ve learned to step aside and tell them to “go ahead and give it a try.” Each and every one of them has come back with the same words “I didn’t realize how much you do!” I take my job back and in return I get their respect.
I can empathize and share all kinds of stories with women who want to show that the male-dominated workplace is unfair. But I never let that hold me back. I didn’t let it affect my attitude about who I am or what I can accomplish. I didn’t let it erode my self-confidence. I know what I can do, I know that being a woman in a male-dominated workplace is an advantage – that I can outperform any of my male peers using the techniques I talk about on this website.
It’s all about attitude. I heard something on TV today about how men need to change. I don’t believe I can wait for men “to get the message” and change the workplace. (I will be retired and buried before that happens!) My attitude is that I and we, as women, already have the power to change the workplace – we just have to choose to exercise it.
Choose your attitude. You can be a victim, a passive bystander or a leader. I have always chosen to be a leader and I believe all women can be leaders in the male workplace. I believe the male-dominated workplace needs us to be leaders. And I also believe we will be rewarded.
In my career I have not focused on how I was treated – I focused on performance, making things happen and providing results. This is why I figured out how as a woman to out-perform my male peers, in ways that are difficult for them to match. My attitude is that no one can take away my accomplishments. Oh, and yes early in my career a jealous manager decided not to write me up for an award. My response to him was “I didn’t do all that I did so I could get a medal. And not getting a medal doesn’t change what I accomplished.” I own my accomplishments, they give me confidence in what I can achieve and that is what matters.
So, please don’t buy into the whole the workplace is unfair to women mantra. If you do, it can easily become an excuse that deters you from leading your workplace. Believing you are helpless is how you hold yourself back, fail to speak your truths, fail to live up to your values and fail to be responsible for the betterment of your community and workplace. And as a woman in the male-dominated workplace, your responsibility is to project positive energy and provide leadership so the workplace becomes fair and so those who perform are rewarded and recognized for their accomplishments.
Empowered Women Don’t Allow Negative Attitudes Deter Their Leadership.