One day when I have a bit of extra cash lying around I am going to commission a study about all the things women are doing right at work. For now, we have yet another bit of research to suggest that we’re sometimes our own enemies when it comes to breaking the glass ceiling.
The study, which has now been published in a book called The Psychology of Sales Reluctance, was conducted by Shannon Goodson, a behavioral scientist who compared 11,000 professional women with 16,000 professional men from 34 countries. Goodson found that women are significantly less likely than men to tout their achievements and contributions at work and believe that self-promotion is “socially unacceptable”, “unlady-like” and “morally suspect”.
“They believe hard work alone is sufficient to put them on salary and status par with their male counterparts… Good work is important, but good work alone does not, as the myth says, speak for itself, you have to give it a voice.”
This isn’t quite news because other studies have shown that women don’t negotiate as often and as well as men for raises, which is one contributing factor to why women still make less for doing the same job. Neither is there an obvious answer here, because we have to walk the finest of lines at work, appearing assertive, but not too much, as to not be labeled bitchy, and being compassionate, but not too much, as to not be labeled soft. Show me a man who has to deal with these many fine lines and parameters in his career (while, let’s not forget, taking care of kids and chores) and I’ll give him a medal.
So what’s a woman to do? How do we not short-change ourselves from getting what we deserve without alienating our bosses and colleagues who are holding us to a ridiculous double standard?
I don’t have a good answer, so let me know what YOU think.
P.S. And I couldn’t resist using this image for this post because succeeding as a woman at work sometimes feels like climbing up a metal ladder in high heels.