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The double glazed glass ceiling

Do you know quieter professional women who contribute a lot or have the potential to but don’t get noticed, recognised or overlooked? They are naturally more introverted, not comfortable with promoting themselves or networking. Alternatively they are good at pretending to be an extrovert but feel exhausted or depleted in doing so. They are quiet achievers or ‘exhausted’ achievers.

 

Most of these women have a lot of substance and wisdom. Unfortunately, their voices get drowned by workplaces where the masculine and extroversion dominate. These talented women miss out, colleagues, teams and organisations miss out on hearing the deep, thoughtful perspectives from these women.

 

If you are one of these quieter professional women, how do you contribute your best without being fake in a masculine, extrovert dominant workplace?

 

If you work with a quieter professional woman with great talent, how are you getting the best from her?

 

Below is an excerpt from my latest white paper - Quietly Powerful: Be heard, get ahead and make a difference without feeling fake as a quiet professional woman.

 

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Gender diversity has become a hot topic in organisations. Progress is slow, but the noise is getting louder. So many initiatives are under way within and outside organisations, such as conferences focused on gender diversity, women’s networking and support groups, leadership development for women, inclusive policies and support through male champions of change and male speakers boycotting all male speaker panels.

 

While they are a great for promoting gender diversity more broadly, they don’t always help us quiet, professional women.

“Faking it till you make it” is a piece of advice that’s given to many women trying to advance in their careers. While useful from time to time, it doesn’t always work in the long run.

 

“Be more confident” is not so easy when the assumptions around how to look confident involves speaking up to get attention.

As quiet professional women, we are faced with a double handicap.

 

First, as a woman, it’s challenging enough to get heard and get ahead. It’s clear in the statistics. Many people have researched, written on and continue to work on the issue of gender diversity in the workplace. EY’s recent report, Women in Industry (2016) outline disconnects between intent and actual progress with gender diversity. It is a complex issue with many challenges in making progress. Some organisations still do not take the issue seriously and unconscious biases are still rife in organisations.

 

Second, as a quieter person – an introvert, it sometimes feels impossible to be heard. Fortunately, people like Susan Caine (author of Quiet and TED speaker) have made introversion more visible and acceptable. Unfortunately, there are still stigmas and stereotypes about introversion that hold us back. Have you ever noticed how biased workplaces are in favour of extroverts? Think about:

  • Move to open plan offices and flexi-desking
  • Brainstorming as a way of generating ideas
  • Offsites and workshops
  • Back to back meetings with little time to think
  • Team building events that require large groups of people to socialise
  • Networking events and the importance placed on them
  • Action orientation – we don’t hear about reflection orientation
  • Valuing thinking on your feet
  • Valuing looking confident, sometimes more than the substance behind the look

 

Being a quiet woman has additional challenges. Broad stereotypes of women don’t always fit us, such as being more emotional, more talkative and social than men. So when organisations address gender diversity, our unique challenges are not always addressed.

 

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The full white paper explores the opportunities for quieter women and what they could do. It will be available in the next few weeks.

 

Related articles:

 

Are you a leader that gets the best from a mix of different people?

Unconscious bias is a business issue, not just a diversity issue

I don’t want to be a leader

Stifled by Stereotypes

Stop killing potential with “You don't look/sound like a ...”

 

I will be hosting the first Quietly Powerful Women’s Breakfast in Melbourne, Australia, to explore what it takes for quieter women to be heard, get ahead and make a difference without feeling fake. Please book HERE to join us or share with others who you think would benefit.

My Blog

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