As we continue to break down traditional gender roles and stereotypes, there still exist differences between the way men and women communicate with others, approach problems, generate solutions and manage people in the workplace. And that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. The beauty of diversity lies in bringing together different strengths and unique perspectives.
When I read the article on Tarsus Technology Groups blog, Gateway, titled “The good girl doesn’t get the corner office!” I was struck by some of the points made about how women sabotage their brand.
Be as feminine as you like
Lois P Frankel, in her book “Nice Girls Do Not Get the Corner Office”, which is referenced in the article, advises women against being “too feminine”. I take issue with this view because we should be challenging why people are making assumptions about levels of femininity rather than advising women to be less feminine.
If we believe that diversity improves team performance, and that when team members bring a variety of backgrounds, cultures, and experiences, they are more likely to solve problems and be innovative, why would we want to police what women wear?
Within the bounds of appropriate dress for work, we should all be able to wear what we like and be successful – the two are not mutually exclusive. On a personal note, I was raised by a single mother who is a strong woman whom I look up to. She has never had to be less feminine in order to build a career.
Lead like a woman
Qualities traditionally considered feminine – such as empathy, collaboration, care and intuition – need to be celebrated, not derided. Many professional women will have been told that there’s no room for emotion at work. Bringing passion and understanding to the workplace, while putting people at the centre, allows women to use that power to negotiate a better and more comfortable working environment.
As a manager who is confident of her abilities, I take pride in being approachable and perhaps a little gentler than some of my colleagues. I enjoy being able to advise younger or less experienced co-workers when they turn to me for assistance, and I believe it is an important component of my role as a leader.
Women in management are often of the view that they have to be assertive, to a point at which people avoid them rather than risk confrontation. I hope never to find myself in that position because I thrive on engagement and sharing different opinions. It is possible to be respected without scaring away colleagues who may disagree with me.
Aim for the middle ground
If there is a middle ground between femininity and masculinity, then that is where we should choose to meet. What is the point of creating an inclusive environment, accepting of every individual’s differences, enabling all employees to achieve their full potential, if we believe that women should be more like men?
I’m happy to say that Tarsus Technology Group is a company that encourages all of us to continue learning and to be the best we can at what we do. It is a place where people are respected, where it is safe to raise an opinion and be heard, and where we have the freedom to explore new ideas.