Men are expected to be assertive and confident, so we welcome their leadership. In contrast, women are expected to be kind, nurturing, and compassionate, so when they lead, they go against our expectations and often face pushback as a result. Challenge these stereotypes by pointing out bias and supporting your female colleagues. You have a strong incentive to make sure that women succeed in your organization—men who work well with women and tap the full talents of their teams outperform their peers.
With communication experts (probably the only Gender balanced fraternity) at Praxis 15
1.CHALLENGE THE “LIKEABILITY PENALTY”
In a Columbia Business School study, different groups of students read a case study about a venture capitalist with one single difference—gender. Students respected both “Howard” and “Heidi,” but Howard was described as likeable and Heidi was seen as selfish and not “the type of person you would want to hire or work for.”
When you hear a woman called “bossy” or “shrill,” request a specific example of what the woman did and then ask, “Would you have the same reaction if a man did the same thing?” In many cases, the answer will be no. Remember that you can also fall into these bias traps, so think carefully about your own response to female coworkers.
2. EVALUATE PERFORMANCE FAIRLY
Gender-blind studies consistently show that removing gender from decisions improves women’s chances of success. One study found that replacing a woman’s name with a man’s name on a résumé improved the odds of getting hired by 61 percent.
Awareness begets fairness. Make sure everyone on your team is aware of the gender bias in evaluating performance. Be specific about what constitutes excellent performance, and make sure goals are set in advance, understood, and measurable. The clearer your criteria are, the better. Be prepared to explain your evaluations—and expect the same of others. When people are accountable for their decisions, they are more motivated to think through them carefully.
3. GIVE WOMEN CREDIT
Men will apply for jobs when they meet 60 percent of the hiring criteria, while women wait until they meet 100 percent.
Make sure women get the credit they deserve and look for opportunities to acknowledge their contributions. When you introduce female coworkers, emphasize their accomplishments; this helps counteract any preconceived notions about their competence. Push back when women say that they’re “not ready” or “not qualified” for an opportunity—or when others say that about women—and encourage women to go for it!
4. GET THE MOST OUT OF MEETINGS
Women get less airtime and have less influence in meetings
It’s important to make sure everyone speaks up and is heard. Start by encouraging women to sit front and center at meetings. If a female colleague is interrupted, interject and say you’d like to hear her finish. Openly ask women to contribute to the conversation. Be aware of “stolen ideas” and look for opportunities to acknowledge the women who first proposed them. And remember, when you advocate for coworkers, they benefit—and you’re seen as a leader.
5. SHARE OFFICE HOUSEWORK
In a performance evaluation study, men who stayed late to help prepare for a meeting were rated 14 percent more favorably than women who did the exact same thing. When both men and women failed to help, the women were penalized with a 12 percent lower rating than the men.
Pay attention to who volunteers for different types of work, and do your part to help distribute office housework equally. Consider picking up some yourself; it often creates opportunities to collaborate with different coworkers and develop new skills. Don’t fall into the trap of expecting women to take on stereotypical support roles like “team mom” or note taker.
6. MAKE WORK WORK FOR PARENTS
Motherhood triggers Assumptions that women are less competent and committed
Don’t assume mothers won’t be willing to take on challenging assignments or travel. Avoid telling moms “I don’t know how you do it,” which can signal that you think mothers should be at home. If you’re a parent, be vocal about the time you spend away from work with your children; this gives other parents in your organization permission to do the same. If it’s available to you, take paternity leave—and if it’s not, push your company for better policies. As more men and women bring their whole selves to work, the bias linked to motherhood—and fatherhood—will begin to break down.