Last Friday, March 8th, was International Women's Day. The Texas Diversity Council sponsored a symposium dedicated to this day.There were a panel of 7 inspiring women all from different walks of life. All of them delivering a very powerful message - We can make a difference even in high heels!
As women, we face a lot of roadblocks in order to succeed in what we want to do. For years, we've been perceived as unequal to our male counterparts, even though our laws have changed that (i.e., Equal Rights Act, EEOC,Voting Rights). Many women are still fighting the glass ceiling effect. Some of us struggle just to have our voices heard. So, what can we as women do to change these perceptions?
Assertive vs. Aggressive
When we look at successful men, one of the qualities they have is assertiveness. However, when a woman has this quality, they are perceived as something else (HINT: starts with B and rhymes with witch). Many will perceive a woman to be too aggressive when in actuality, she is being assertive.
Let's analyze the word assertive. When defined, assertive means acting confidently: confident in stating a position or claim. So far, the word assertive is a positive word based on the definition. Now, let's define aggressive. It is defined as likely to attack: showing a readiness or having a tendency to attack or do harm to others or attacking: attacking or taking action without provocation. Both words have two different meanings. Therefore, as women, we need to let people understand the meaning of each word whenever someone accuses us of being too aggressive.
We Are Our Own Barriers
Women are constant worriers. When we worry, we start to doubt ourselves with the decisions we've made. Sometimes, we tend to hide our talents because we fear the idea of being different from everybody else. Ladies, it's ok! Remove the barriers you've made for yourself. Don't' worry, just do it! The best way to learn is to fail. It's the experience that makes a person. In this case, a woman! Be different! If a woman wants to get ahead, she needs to be noticed for her talents. No one gets anywhere being the same like everyone else.
Don't Be Jealous of Other Women's Successes
As women, we tend to compete, sometimes even compare ourselves with other women. When we see another woman succeed, we tend to dislike her, often due to jealousy. Rather than turning green with envy, why not celebrate her success? After all, she's done well for herself. Keep her as a friend. You may learn something from her that may help you get to your own success!
One of the best ways to "advertise" yourself is networking. If we look at a successful man, he has a lot of networks. He golfs, has power lunches, even has time to drink with others. For women, we usually don't allow ourselves to network. It comes back down to "time". At the end of the day, we want to go home and tend to our families. Therefore, what we call "social" is put in the back burner. Ladies, it's time to go out there and make some friends! Join associations that fit with your career. Find a women's network that matches your interests. If you can't find one, make one! The importance of networking is gaining important information for your personal success and ultimately connecting with people who can help you.
Find a Mentor
Mentors are important to have in anybody's life. They provide feedback and guidance to get to where you want to be. Find that person - man or woman - who can help you towards your goals. A mentor will be your guiding light in perfecting your skill set. At the same time, find someone who can advocate or sponsor you to the next level. Here's what I mean by advocate or sponsor. He or she will be the one talking to decision makers about how good you are in order to give you the chance to shine.
Be A Woman
As women, we still are part of a man's world! This does not mean you need to act like a man in order to succeed. The best advice I received was to always remain professional and maintain femininity. Put the power suit on, wear some lipstick, and slip on those high heels. It's fine to be a woman and exude power at the same time!
C'mon ladies! Let's band together and show our feminine power! We can make a difference so others after us don't have to. What have you done as a woman in order to be successful?