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​Navigating Gender Dynamics In All Your Relationships

​Navigating Gender Dynamics In All Your Relationships

By: Jennifer Weitsen

We are in a period of social transition. Today, more women are graduating from college and from graduate school than men. There is a whole new generation of ambitious, strong women — who are competent, assertive and natural born leaders.

Strong women are challenging stereotypes in both their work and personal relationships. In the past, being decisive, dominant, bold and a risk taker has been seen as contrary to female behavior. However, given the advancements in career options for women, these traits are slowly becoming more gender neutral.

As an author and a psychotherapist in New York City for 30 years, Dr. Sonya Rhodes has worked with increasing numbers of strong, accomplished women. In this Ellevate Network Jam Session, Dr. Rhodes discusses how to navigate through complex gender dynamics both professionally and in your personal relationships.

Find a partner that supports your goals

Drawing from research and clinical observations, Dr. Rhodes said that we have a new relationship model because of the advances women have made. “72% of men and women in their 20s say they want to share work and responsibility,” Dr. Rhodes said.

“The new model of a relationship is the egalitarian marriage — where there is equality and parity in the relationship. The ideal qualities in a marriage are companionship, friendship and sharing work and family responsibilities.”

Dr. Rhodes said it’s important to find a partner to support your goals and who is not threatened by your strengths. “A warmer, more supportive partner, who will respect and admire your accomplishments,” she said. “He values partnership, parenting and pulling his own weight. He will be strong himself, but doesn’t define himself in terms of power and dominance.”

Today, marriage comes with higher expectations of fairness, fidelity, partnership and companionship. Dr. Rhodes said this helps with women taking on more family and childcare responsibilities while having a career.

Navigating through changing relationship dynamics

Since statistics show that more women are graduating from college than men, there are more relationships where women are becoming the main breadwinners. Dr. Rhodes said that within this new relationship dynamic it is crucial to:

  • Be sensitive to ego issues
  • Share power as opposed to dominate
  • Negotiate with your partner and make financial decisions together
  • Share household, family and childcare responsibilities
  • Avoid burnout and don’t overcompensate for the fact that you are making more money by doing even more housework

Navigating gender dynamics in the workplace

Dr. Rhodes discussed how to cope with subtle forms of sexism in the workplace:

Keep your boundaries clear. If general sexual comments are made, ignore them or if they are specific to you, say something like, “What do you mean by that?” or “I think that is insulting.”

When you are negotiating, set your goals realistically: When there is salary disparity at the entry level, women are tentative to negotiate, whereas men do negotiate and have higher salaries as a result. Determine what is realistic to ask for, do some research, find out the range of salaries in your field and gear your salary negotiation to the right level.

Sit or stand at the front of the room when in meetings: Make constant eye contact with leaders, presenters and audience members.

Have a sense of humor

Over-prepare for meetings or presentations: Practice, practice, practice.

Volunteer to head a committee or be a lead team member

For more information on Navigating Gender Dynamics, watch our Ellevate Network Jam Session. You can also check out the book Dr. Rhodes co-authored with Susan Schneider, The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match: How Strong Women Can Find Love, Success and Happiness Without Settling

About Dr. Sonya Rhodes:

Dr. Sonya Rhodes is a psychotherapist and expert on marital and family relationship with a private specializing in couples therapy. Dr. Rhodes has been the marriage columnist for McCall’s magazine for several years and also a guest on programs including Oprah, Good Morning America, and the Today Show. She is a contributor on Huffington Post. Dr. Rhodes has held part-time faculty positions at Columbia University, Hunter College, and New York Medical College.  Find Dr. Rhodes on Twitter @drsonyarhodes and @alpha_women.