I keep reading about how gender bias holds women back. But gender bias has never been a topic I’ve given a second thought to. Given my career that seems pretty odd.
When I start a new job or project, I recognize that most of the men I work with never had a female peer who they have to compete against. And the men I supervise never worked for a woman either.
I recognize they have a fear of the unknown. Their fear of working with a woman is no different than the fear they had when they got a new computer system or when the company was sold and new management took over.
I know their worst fears come from dramatic horror stories they’ve heard over the years:
- I am an angry man-hater who wants revenge on men.
- They will have to walk on eggshells around me because I will be looking for gender biases and reasons to claim harassment and discrimination. I am a risk to their jobs and family’s financial security.
- I am a Token Woman who got promoted just so the company can tout their diversity and I’m not qualified for my job.
- My indecisiveness, timidity and insecurity will make their jobs harder.
Since I know none of those apply to me, I ignore them. I am confident that my initial actions will quickly dispel these fears in the men as well.
Will being a woman make me different to work with?
Oh hell yes!
But in ways they never considered.
The first thing I do is ask: What isn’t working?
Tell me all those problems you have endured for years that create stress and frustration? What problems make coming to work a chore and keep everyone from feeling like they accomplished something? What are the problems that lead to alcoholism, drug addiction and a myriad of health issues?
I open Pandora’s box.
I know their list will be long. I know the men need to vent and I listen to them. As they vent I lead them to reaching consensus on the top priorities. Without them knowing it, I’ve already declared that I am different from a man.
Unlike the long list of men who came before me, I will lead them in fixing the problems.
Notice I didn’t say the “I am going to fix the problems.” Men have heard the Savior declaration countless times and they know Saviors are quickly be distracted so nothing ever changes.
As a woman, I am not going to try to be the Savior of the Big Hero. Instead, I am a leader and we are a team.
The first lesson I teach my team is that we all work as part of a system and everything we do affects someone else. Out of respect for each other, no one is allowed to half ass their work and pass it off to someone else to deal with and fix. Instead we are going to take our top priority problems, sit down together and figure out why work can’t get done right the first time. Then together we will come up with changes to our processes so the problems don’t happen again.
I create a Purple Zone systems-driven workplace where we all work in unison and holistically.
I make us more efficient and effective. I drive performance upward. We exceed all of our metrics. We deliver more money to the bottom line.
Consequently, I out-perform all of my male colleagues. That gets attention and earns me promotions.
If I listen to all the narratives and studies about gender bias I am supposed to believe that my drive to out-perform all of my male colleagues is rooted in gender bias. I am supposed to have an inherent inferiority complex that tells me I must out-perform my male colleagues by miles if I am to get ahead.
I do it because it is my job.
I do it because I care about my colleagues. I put all that empathy, nurturing and caring women are famous for into action. I want all of us to go home at the end of every day with the feeling of satisfaction that comes from accomplishment. I want each of us to be proud of ourselves and see ourselves as achievers. I want to relieve the stress and frustration so everyone can be healthy.
I work this way because I am a woman and this is what we do.
Empowered Women Create a Gender Bias That Says – Please Hire More Women!