From Around the Web: Working Women – A Guide for Men

(photo: Thomas Angermann)

Jabil Joules champions the business benefits of gender balance, challenges organizational barriers and endeavors to expand the representation of women in leadership and operations. Enjoying the benefits of these goals require commitment of both women and men in the workplace.

A recent Wall Street Journal article, Women at Work: A Guide for Men, argues that the abundance of available advice for working women has hit an unnecessary high and that women don’t need more career advice, men do. The author, Joanne Lipman, takes a stand that men misread women in the workplace daily, albeit not intentionally. Her perspective has unsurfaced polarizing opinions from readers of the article, as are shared in the comments section of the online posting of the piece.

In her article, she “sets out to discover what frustrates and perplexes professional men about the women they work with.” Lipman declares that she isn’t blaming men, instead, her “aim instead is to demystify women.”

We’ll explore her list, below.

  1. She’s not “sorry,” she’s not “lucky” –  and she’s not asking you a question.
    The first of Lipman’s list of guiding points for men when working with women is to understand that men and women communicate differently. A woman is more likely to add qualifiers and apologies to their sentences. Additionally, “when complimented on her work, a woman is more likely to downplay it, saying she was ‘lucky.’” Lipman’s argument is that men need to recognize that women don’t assert themselves in meetings as frequently as their male counterparts and men need to forwardly ask women for their opinions and to include all members of the team.
  2. She’s ready for a promotion – she just doesn’t know it yet.
    “Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg, in her book ‘Lean In,’ cites an internal Hewlett-Packard study that found that men apply for a job when they consider themselves 60% qualified for it; women won’t raise their hands until they feel 100% qualified.” Research shows that women can be a bit more reluctant to take on increased responsibility through a promotion and Lipman recommends men seeking qualified women to fill an available position should reach out directly to the woman and encourage them to apply.
  3. She’s pretty sure that you don’t respect her.
    Lipman’s third guiding principle is that “for most men in a room, respect is a given.” Lipman argues that for women, they must prove that they are qualified to do the job, whereas people assume a man is qualified. To combat this fact, Lipman highlights that for women, it’s important for them to feel as if their boss has their back. Lipman shares that women “value gratitude and recognition more than men.”
  4. She deserves a raise.
    The article asserts that “men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise –  and when women do ask, they typically request 30% less than men do, says Carnegie Mellon University economics professor Linda Babcock.” Lipman appears to agree with the advice books on this one and encourages women to ask for “what they deserve.”
  5. That’s actually not a compliment.
    The fifth point of Lipman’s details “benevolent sexism.” This includes comments that may seem complimentary but “unwittingly reinforces negative stereotypes.” For example, calling someone an accomplished woman leader instead of simply an accomplished leader. Lipman argues that adding the gender qualifier, although it may seem innocent, can remind women of stereotypes that undermine their cognitive performance and confidence.
  6. Don’t be afraid of tears.
    Managers were quoted in the article stating that without even realizing it, they were easier on female directors when it came down to performance reviews, because men “didn’t want them (women) to cry, to feel bad.” According to the article, men can appear scared to give women honest feedback, resulting in a disservice to the women. Without constructive, honest feedback, women aren’t given the same opportunities to grow as their male counterparts.
  7. Children group up.
    Although women with young children may intentionally take a step back from their careers, Lipman shares that men should keep talented women with children on the list when future positions become open. A women oftentimes wants to step back up into their career as their children age but may be sidelined by their offspring.
  8. She’s your boss, not your mother.
    The Wall Street Journal article states that Georgetown University Professor Tannen “has found that men consider strong leaders to be those who hire good people and get out of the way. Female leaders are more likely to try for collaboration, treating others as equals and checking in frequently.” The result of this opposing mindset is one of miscommunication, followed by resentment.

Lipman’s article ends on an optimistic note, stating that many companies are taking note of the unconscious bias of men and that men are joining the conversation of how to increase gender balance.

We want to hear from you:
What do you think of Lipman’s “Guide” for men?

One Comment on “From Around the Web: Working Women – A Guide for Men

  1. Good article, majority of our leaders are men and they tender to pick guys for opportunities. And women normally will not put their hands up and instead wait for someone to notice their talent and offer them the opportunities.

    Will need more effort to encourage the Leaders to tap the capabilities of the Jabil women in Asia…..

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