As a woman in corporate America, I am an avid reader of articles and studies about leadership differences between men and women. I am not here to gripe about the inequities between men and women’s salaries (although they still exist), or about sexual discrimination in the workplace (I’ve been called Honey more times than I can count). What I would like to discuss is the documented aversion women have to self promotion. When executives are interviewed about the differences between men and women, one of the themes that occurs again and again is that women don’t self promote.
Now, as a woman, I read Women don’t self promote. and think, “Kudos to women. I want my actions to speak for themselves and don’t want to be a braggart.”
But self promoting isn’t about bragging or exuding arrogance. It’s about letting others know what skills and strengths you bring to the table. And no one’s going to know unless you tell them. Being able to self promote is key to succeeding at work and by not being able to self promote, women are hamstringing their careers.
Let’s face it, the people we work with are pretty much the same as us – busy, overscheduled, focused on getting their projects done and their families raised. It is the rare leader that hunts around trying to figure out what you’ve done today, this week, or this month. It is our responsibility as employees to make them aware of our contributions. Not to the exclusion of giving credit where it’s due, but that includes not excluding yourself from the credit. While you’re handing out the kudos don’t forget to acknowledge the role you played too.
But women (as a whole) don’t do this. When I asked a small group of executive women why they think this was, here are some of the repeating themes I heard:
- I was taught to be humble. / I don’t want to be arrogant.
- I don’t want to brag.
- I’m more comfortable pointing out other people’s accomplishments than my own.
- Women are good collaborators, they don’t like to point out individuals. They feel more comfortable giving kudos to teams.
- Women are nurturers, they support others into the spotlight rather than themselves.
But we didn’t always feel this way.
Think about the children you know:
- Ask any 7 year old how their soccer game went and they will immediately tell you how many goals they scored. No hesitation or concerns about humility.
- How many times have you heard “Look at me!” from your 4 year old?
Need a reminder? Watch this video of my 3 year old daughter…
Obviously once upon a time we knew how to cheer for ourselves.
I have some ideas, but would like to hear from you.
- Is it because women are raised to be supportive and men are raised to be assertive?
- Is it instinctual – women are genetically more inclined toward group oriented tasks than individual? Hunter vs. Gatherer
- Is it the feedback we get about being bitchy or bossy or controlling?
- Is it the toys we play with as children?
- What do you think it is?
When and why do you think we learn it’s not ok to cheer for ourselves?
Do you have a thought provoking post?
Please link it up below and I’ll make sure to stop by and will pick my top 3 favorites to highlight next week.
Another feature I’ll be adding is a weekly post idea list, so make sure to subscribe to Mom in Management if you’d like some thought provoking writing prompts.
Here are a few:
- What do you think of the parents that didn’t reveal their child’s gender until he/she was 5?
- Do good leaders work themselves out of a job?
- Revealing/tight clothing for little girls – sexualizing our daughters.
- When do you think lying is the right thing to do?
- What is the worst/best example of leadership, management or parenting that you have seen?