That's what ForbesWoman Community member Ann Daly, Ph.D., an executive coach and professional development specialist for women based in Austin, Texas, wants to know. She replied to a conversation thread on salary and self-esteem on our LinkedIn group. Elizabeth Miles, chief executive of a U.K.-based legal software company, started the conversation with the suggestion that women generally don't assert their value in the workplace. "It's as if women can feel less deserving."
Yahoo! BuzzThat brought in the mail. Victoria Pynchon, a commercial mediator and arbitrator at ADR Services, a Southern California alternative dispute resolution firm, had this to say: "Sexism still exists (shocked! I'm shocked!). When orchestras recently began conducting auditions behind screens so that the "jury" couldn't see the gender of the musician, callbacks for women doubled. It's not their fault ... So let's not go blaming ourselves."
On her blog, Ann Daly, whose sixth book, Do-Over! How Women Are Reinventing Their Lives, is scheduled for release in February 2010, points out that "the 21st-century version of sexism is nothing blatant, nothing Mad Men. Men, for the most part, have learned to appear politically correct. Most of them are savvy enough not to engage, at least consciously, in so-called 'gender stereotyping.' "
Sexism, whatever you call it, hasn't disappeared. But it's better to know exactly what you're up against. To that end, Daly pulled together the top 10 unwritten rules for working women. "Don't let them sabotage your ambitions."
Men get the benefit of the doubt. Men generally get hired on their promise and women on their demonstrated experience. Men are usually taken at their word, while women get challenged more, required to deliver data and substantiation for their views.
Looks matter. Bare those arms and legs at your own risk: Flesh conjures up images of the beach and the boudoir, not the boardroom.
You won't get sufficient feedback. Professional development depends upon rigorous, comprehensive, ongoing feedback. Your (male) boss may not feel comfortable delivering that information to you. You need to be direct in asking for it from him and from other colleagues and team members.
A working mother's commitment is assumed to be ambivalent. At worst, mothers are seen as potential flight risks from the organization, and therefore not worthy of any further investment. At best, they are denied plum travel and assignments, under the guise of benevolent protectionism. Don't let anyone else speak or decide for you.
Actually, it is personal. In mid-career, at the point where everyone brings comparable talent to the table, it's who you know, not what you know, that gets you promoted. As HR pros will tell you, you don't push yourself to the top, you get pulled there. Men knew what they were doing when they invented the old boys' club. From the get-go, women need to be just as savvy, cultivating mentors, allies and champions.
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