Ladies, All the Ladies
“Sasha! Congratulations on your award!” a colleague bustling down the hallway yelled to me. “Oh gosh, thanks, I am not sure how I won…I didn’t deserve it…” I stammered. He just smiled and looked at me shaking his head, and walked on.
I stood for a moment feeling awkward. Why did I respond like that? Why didn’t I just say thank you?
I didn’t doubt all the hours I put in to earn the research award. The years working nights and weekends, failed hypothesis, multiple grant rejections and redundant publication revisions were not fabricated, and I knew how hard I had labored.
Why couldn’t I embrace the result of that hard work?
Women have a harder time with self-promotion – not only do we see ourselves as braggarts or fear that we will pay the price if we promote our own accomplishments, but also some research suggests women may be perceived negatively compared to our male colleagues for self-promotion.
Yet other research suggests that one of the most significant promoter of a woman’s accomplishments is herself – for her to make those in leadership above her aware of her accomplishments, her awards, and achievements.
We need to embrace our successes, and we need to throw our arms around our own achievements and the achievements of other women.
Because of the truth most of us know: if you want something done, you better do it yourself.
There are a plethora of studies to show a lack of both professional mentorship and sponsorship for women compared to men in the workplace. While some of us are blessed to have #HeForShes, men who purposefully elevate and promote women in the workplace, they are not as prevalent as you may imagine. Not very many women have male colleagues who are willing to sponsor them.
Here’s my advice to women:
1. Don’t shy away from your achievements. Even if it feels uncomfortable, make sure that you if you publish something, speak nationally, achieve an honor, or want to pursue a position, that those in leadership above you and those around you know about it.
It will INSPIRE other women. And it will help you level up –we need women in high levels.
2. Promote the achievements of other women. Retweet, post, announce in meetings, note in emails when OTHER WOMEN achieve.
3. Get comfortable being uncomfortable. When someone says ‘Atta girl!’ Accept it graciously, and move on.
Here’s my advice to men:
1. Look around you in the workplace. Chances are there is a woman who is afraid of negative backlash if she self promotes. Do it for her. Encourage her. Sponsor her. Most likely, her success will bounce up and reflect positively on you.
2. When opportunities present themselves – ask a woman. Nominate women. Invite us to collaborate.
3. Shine a light on the achievements of women – and their potential. Studies show that diversity at the top pays dividends to us all.
Women: let’s embrace our successes and our achievements. Let’s be #braveenough.
1. Moss Racusin et al. Disruptions in women’s self-promotion. Psychology Women. 2010. 34:186-202