As the number of women in leadership positions continues to rise, working women are constantly called on to ask themselves what they’re looking for from their professional experience. Despite great strides there are a few things on the wish list: equal pay, for one. But also mentors, the end of a need for gender quotas, and balance, however you choose to define it. Of course, real change comes only with real effort. The following eight workplace tips call for women to abolish the behaviors that threaten to hold them back.
1. Ask for what you want.
According to a survey of 1,000 female professionals conducted by Citi/ LinkedIn, “not getting paid enough” is one of the three biggest work frustrations women face. And yet only one in four women asked for a raise in 2013. Looking for change? Ask for a raise! There’s reason to believe it’ll work: The Citi/ LinkedIn study also found that 75 percent of women who asked for a raise got one.
2. Don’t be afraid to be the “bitch”…
Being a female boss is a classic catch-22. In order for women to succeed, they have to be different, extraordinary, and — key — not too emotional. But they’re also called on to be likeable and “just like everyone else.” For many, it’s a no win situation. So don’t try. Instead, make smart decisions, stick to your guns, and do the job you were hired to do — without apology.
3. …but don’t be the bully, either.
Workplace bullies often think that holding others back secures their own position. But studies show that those who mentor are more professionally successful than those who don’t. A 2012 study at the University of Texas, Austin, for example, found that those who mentored gained a better understanding of their own strengths and limitations, solidified their understanding of certain career-related concepts, and were happier besides. The lesson: Aim to be a better boss. After all, you’re only as good as your worst employee.
4. Take credit.
A study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that women are more likely than men to give away the credit at work. Stop. Learning to acknowledge your own great efforts helps open doors, models confidence for other women, and can boost mood besides: A Harvard study found that talking about yourself triggers the same sensation of pleasure in the brain as eating good food or being paid.
5. Quit keeping score.
Whether it’s something small like only offering to get coffee for those who would reciprocate or something more consequential like going to bat for a colleague, women tend to keep track of favors given and received. But scorekeeping is based in manipulation, and can lead to a hostile environment, discouraging collaboration in favor of division and contempt. It’s also a huge waste of time.
6. Stop apologizing.
More than men, women have a tendency to fear ambition and success, though typically unconsciously. They worry they’re not deserving of the promotion, or the raise; they’re concerned success will alienate them from their friends and potential partners; they don’t ask for what they want. And yet if you stop apologizing for going after your goals — or achieving them — you’ll have a far greater chance of both continued success and personal happiness.
7. Define “having it all” on your own terms.
Much has been said about whether women can “have it all.” But how about we stop throwing all women in the same pot? Women want different things — as such, “all” is entirely relative. That’s okay. Whether or not to pursue a career, and how, is a very personal and entirely individual decision. Learn to make it on your own.
8. Go home for dinner.
Seriously, go. If not for your family, then for your career: A study published in the journal Gender & Society found that putting in 50 hours a week or more did not help women in professional and managerial occupations get ahead, but in fact the opposite. Take a cue from Sheryl Sandberg, who famously leaves work at 5:30 so that she can have dinner with her kids at 6. Consider that Sandberg’s success might not be in spite of the habit, but because of it.
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