“This Is A Man’s World” And Other Half-Truths Women Learn At Work
“This is a man’s world
This is a man’s world
But it wouldn’t be nothing, nothing
Without a woman or a girl.”
James Brown crooned out this chart-topping chauvinism, supposedly assuaging the insult by making women (and girls) sound like the prize that makes it all worthwhile for hard-working, world-ruling men.
And here we are, well into the 21st century, and one could argue that not much has changed. After all (according to Huff Post), 100% of Wall Street CEO’s, 95% of Fortune 500 CEO’s and more than 80% of members of Congress…are men.
Perhaps this is a man’s world.
Until we acknowledge the assumptions under which the world still operates, the above percentages aren’t going to change. Until now, the burden of change has been on women, instead of on a flawed workplace system created for and by men.
Let’s do a little myth-busting of these half-truths women learn at work….
Myth #1: Women lack confidence and ambition.
Truth: Confidence and ambition show up differently between the sexes. And women aren’t lacking in either quality.
Men tend to overestimate their abilities in everything, while women tend to underestimate their abilities. Men will apply for a job with only 50% of the required skills, while women will wait for 100%.
While some would call this a different way of seeing reality, it is more often treated as a “confidence gap.” And women are perceived as lacking. In truth, women are “risk alert” and “loss averse,” but not lacking confidence.
Studies show that women lobby for promotions at rates comparable to men but are awarded them less often. They also ask for raises as much…and receive them less often. In this regard, one could argue that this is a man’s world…still.
Myth #2: There aren’t enough qualified women.
Truth: Women account for 52% of all professional-level jobs in the U.S., 40% of MBA’s from top schools and 47% of all law degrees.
Myth #3: Advancing women hurts men.
Truth: One report showed that companies with female CEO’s perform three times better than S&P 500 companies headed predominantly by men.
Men can be great allies for women in their companies. Giving women credit for their contributions and recognizing gender stereotypes can help to make the workplace more equitable.
Myth #4: Women don’t aspire to senior leadership roles.
Truth: Women and men have the same career aspirations, but those aspirations grow differently. Women’s aspirations grow as their professional experience grows, and therefore tend to have a slower growth overall. Women also define success more broadly, so decision-making about careers is more complex for them.
Myth #5: Child-rearing stops women from making it to the top.
Truth: Gender, not parenthood, is the career-defining factor. Men with children are the most likely to be promoted, while women without children are the least likely.
Having a family slows a woman’s career growth marginally but isn’t significant in preventing her rise to the top.
Myth #6: Women don’t stick it out to get to the top.
Truth: Lack of promotion, not attrition, is why women are not reaching the executive level.
A cursory examination of gender bias in the workplace would make it easy to conclude that, even in the 21st century, this is a man’s world. Men are promoted more quickly, are given positions for which they often have only partial skills and are paid more for the same work.
But if we are willing to examine the lens through which we view inequities in the workplace, we will see that this isn’t a man’s world any more than it is a woman’s world. And once we see the truth of gender division where we work, it becomes easier to advocate for equitable treatment, respect and pay.
If you would appreciate more support in achieving your career goals without falling prey to the myth that this is a man’s world, reach out to me. I’m here to support you on your journey to greater success.