Thursday, May 04, 2006

...and I'm back

so.... I've been wondering lately about the realities of being a woman in business. When I was younger, I didn't want to believe that there were any differences in the way that people were treated - and I'm not talking about opportunities and pay rates; I'm talking about what people expect of you, and how they interpret your actions.

Let me back up.
When I was younger, I really didn't care what people thought of me. I didn't care if they liked me or if they didn't. I knew I was right, I knew I had the correct perspective, I knew that I knew best - and if people didn't want to come along on my train, then screw them.

As I have gained experience in the workforce, been "evaluated" by different managers and employees, and had discussions about ambition and future with collegues, I've begun to think that there are realities you have to accept in order to be effective in a business setting.

1. I think that women expect women to behave a certain way, and when you don't you get judged
2. I think that men are threatened by women in positions that are hierarchical above them (perhaps there is an exception if the woman is visibly old)
3. I think that men on your level have issues buying what you say
4. I think that your supervisor has issues buying what you say

Now, the topic dejour is as follows: is these observations about being a woman in business, or are these realities for be because of who I am?

so the not caring about what people think thing is still true in that I don't care emotionally, it doesn't affect how I feel about myself, however, I have begun to think that you do have to "act", "perform", "behave", "pretend", in a certain way in order to play the game of business.

The problem is that the majority of our role models are men - and you CANNOT behave the same as a man; it doesn't work! There IS a double standard.
Or our role models are women who's position is the result of specific circumstances.... so you cannot generalize to the whole, or general.

I'm reading this book right now that's billed basically as "how to be a boss without being a bitch" and I'm very disappointed. I assumed that it would give me insight into how you can be hard, demanding, direct, and to the point without it being construed as "bitch".... but instead it is about the reasons why you should delegate (duh!), don't worry, its ok not to be friends with all of your employees (duh!), and here is your pep talk on being pushy in a meeting (whatever!!).

I have all of that!!! what I want to know is how to navigate the behavior line between people expecting you to be touchy-feely, emotional, couching everything in rose petals, and the hard, direct, bottom-line position.

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