3 Ways Young Women Can Stop Blending in and Start Getting Noticed
Many women can’t stand up straight in their offices without bumping their heads on the glass ceiling. Despite holding more than half the country’s professional-level jobs, a study published by McKinsey & Company and LeanIn.org exposes a sharp drop in the percentage of women in the corporate workforce between entry-level and management positions.
Even though companies with senior women leaders generate a return on equity of 10.1 percent per year versus 7.4 percent for those without, it seems that no matter how effective we are in the workplace, we’re still overlooked for leadership roles.
This was certainly my experience when I entered the corporate world. My career path was fraught with challenges that my male counterparts weren’t even aware of.
Many senior leaders are wonderful men, but their misconceptions about women often hold us back. For example, there’s a common myth that as women start families, their commitment to work fades. In reality, I’d like to think our juggling act makes us perfect multitaskers.
Another misconception is that our hormones will somehow lead us to make unwise, emotion-driven decisions. But personally, I’ve found that our emotional intelligence and nurturing instincts make us great team leaders, help us make cohesive decisions, and enable us to succeed far more often.
Refuse to Stand in Your Own Way
To be fair, companies may overlook us, but we might be holding ourselves back as well. We need to directly tell and show our leaders the errors in these misconceptions and make it apparent that we are capable of dedicating ourselves to hard work.
Gaining your leadership’s attention will help you earn recognition for your skills, make yourself known as a person (rather than a gender), and grant you opportunities to communicate openly with your leaders as you trek along your career path.
Here are three concrete actions you can take to ensure perceptions about your gender won’t hinder your career trajectory:
1. Unpack your fears.
For women striving to become leaders, ambition is mixed with a significant amount of fear — fear that priorities outside of work will become a disadvantage and fear that being a woman is viewed negatively in terms of growth.
These fears will steal your confidence. Plus, the things you’re afraid of won’t become true unless you make them true. They’re myths, not reality. You won’t be ready to grab leaders’ attention unless you believe these fears are based on lies.
2. Network within your company.
Be your best promoter. Find allies within your organization who can help you navigate your growth process. These people know your work best, and you can help one another continue to hone your respective skills.
Seek out mentors who are current leaders. This will give an important person a firsthand look at your performance, commitment, and willingness to grow. As you’re mentored, demonstrate your confidence, ask smart questions, and show that you’re serious about taking your career to the next level.
3. Don’t be afraid to show your strengths.
Women tend to excel in relationship-building, empowering others, being mindful of people’s needs, and balancing an astonishing number of responsibilities. These skills are great assets, not liabilities.
Look for every opportunity to highlight your strengths. These abilities offer a unique perspective into who you are and they will help you stand out from the pack.
I’ve intentionally built my company to be a place where women feel supported and encouraged to show what they have to offer. If your company hasn’t taken this approach, you may have an uphill climb ahead of you — but it’s one you can handle.
Speak up, set an example of what a working woman truly looks like, and break through that glass ceiling.
Originally from Turkey,Zeynep Ilgazand her husband immigrated to the United States with two suitcases, their love for each other and a desire for entrepreneurship. They co-foundedConfirm BioSciencesandTestCountryin San Diego, and Ilgaz serves as president of both. Confirm BioSciences offers service-oriented testing technologies for drugs of abuse and health.
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CEO & Founder
Originally from Turkey, Zeynep Ilgaz (http://ideamensch.com/zeynep-ilgaz/) and her husband immigrated to the United States with two suitcases, their love for each other, and a desire for entrepreneurship. They co-founded Confirm BioSciences (http://www.confirmbiosciences.com/) and TestCountry (http://www.testcountry.com/) in San Diego, and Ilgaz serves as president of both. Confirm BioSciences offers service-oriented testing technologies for drugs of abuse and health. Continue Reading
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