Prejudice against women in the workplace is unfortunately a factor we must face as we navigate our corporate careers. In this blog I will outline what you should be aware of that might be working against you as you climb the ladder, especially when presenting.
It was said by Christine Lagarde (a powerful French politician and businesswoman) that “whenever a woman takes the floor there is a general reduction in the attention of men around the table.” It is unfortunate, but in many cases true, and backed by studies that reflect that men feel more encouraged, valued, competent and listened to in their workplace than their female counterparts. In old-style corporate structures and hierarchies, where these feedback-loops drive men to excel, women can suffer and sacrifice a great deal more in order to attain the same success. Why? Because we are fighting an uphill battle of bias and stereotype with often little reward to show for it.
What is especially unfortunate is that more often than not, women must pay a higher personal price to prove our worth as a contributor in corporate culture. Dedication to family is often perceived subconsciously as a lack of dedication to work, and studies show that our innate lack of confidence and bravado leads us to shy away from opportunities we feel underqualified for, whereas mean more often leap at those same opportunities even if underqualified.
Quite frankly, I am bored saying it, but the old patterns are hard to break. For many, it is accepted that injecting a bit of humour into your next work presentation is a great way to circumnavigate biases and out the elephant in the room. That is partially correct! However, looking a little deeper, studies do show that the effect that injecting humour into corporate communication can be perceived differently when exhibited by man or women. In said study (1), what was reflected was that men’s humour usage was received more positively and subsequently improved their status and the reception of their messaging. Whereas for women, using humour was in some cases interpreted as having poor judgment or covering up a lack of real competence or acumen. It makes me weep.
All is not lost, however! Being aware of biases is the first step in circumnavigating them. You can develop tools and techniques to even go so far as to change others’ perceptions of you in your communications. If you would like to level up your career, then book in for your free 15-minute discovery call!