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Career Management and Development Tips for Women in the Workplace

Guest Author | Meghan Tooley

Career Management and Development Tips for Women in the Workplace

The most recent Statistics Canada gender based statistical report reveals that women in Canada still earn 25% less than men, across professions. From engineers to check-out clerks, the gender gap remains.

Career management is brighter for women in business and finance, who earn 59 cents for every dollar their male counterparts earn. Some argue that the fundamental assumption that women are responsible for duties in the home, from home care to childcare has led to the labour division. In Canada, women spent 13.8 hours a week on domestic work compared to 8.5 hours by men, in 2009. However, it’s not all bad: 31% of women in two income families make more than their partners, but only a very small percentage of these women make it all the way to the top. Facebook’s Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg points out that of 190 heads of state, only nine are women. In the corporate sector, women only make up about 16% and only 13% of world-wide parliament positions go to women. In male-dominated world, how can women stand their ground?

Get The Beer, Not The Coffee

Let’s face it, sometimes men will assume that as a woman, you’re willing to play the assistant role. It’s a tough reality but it goes back the unfortunate fundamental assumption that as a woman you are used to doing the domestic duties. If you continue to get everyone’s coffee or pick up lunch, you’ll take on that role. How many successful men at the top of the company do you see fetching the boss’s coffee? Probably not many. Be helpful, but keep it in reason.

Secondly, make it known that you aren’t an intern, you’re on equal standing as your male team members. If the guys throw out an offer to join them for a beer, take it. On the other hand, invite them out. Penetrating an existing, tight-knit group of guys could be the key to your career management success. They’ll see you as an equal, and get to know you outside of work. In other words, they’ll respect you.

Be Aggressive, But Know When To Say No

Women often feel the pressure to take on as much as they can and work as hard as they can, all the time just to feel on equal ground with the guys. However, pushing 110% all the time will just be detrimental to you, your team mates and the company in general. Go for the projects or tasks that you really want to work on and learn to say no to projects that don’t play to your strengths.

Catching your boss in the elevator or on their way in or out of the office is crucial to finding opportunities for success. The fact is, men speak more and listen less than women do. Letting them know what projects you find stimulating can give you an edge over latent coworkers. If you have the capacity, go for it, just remember to keep it short and to the point and leave out too much personal information.

If The Stereotypes Are Your Strengths, Go With It

It might sound contradictory to everything aforementioned, but if the workplace stereotypes happen to be your best strengths, then why go against them? You happen to be a great listener? Use it to your advantage. It’s a fact that women listen better than men, and if that means gaining exposure to senior executive members then go for it. Women are also more empathetic and social. If these natural personality characteristics can further your career, don’t avoid them simply because you don’t want to play into stereotypes. If your workplace is mostly men, it means your inherent traits are sparse, which gives you an advantage.

When it comes to succeeding in a male dominated workplace, women can feel discouraged. If the gender ratio isn’t on your side, there are ways you can work with it through effective career management. Of course the obvious should be taken into consideration: dress appropriately, have great manners and be on time, but to really go above and beyond expectations, you need to do more. If that doesn’t work, you can always take up golf (just kidding).

About The Author:

Meghan Tooley is an author, blogger and current commerce student. She often writes articles on effective business management and business solutions on behalf of PeopleFirst HR Services. Follow People First on Twitter. To learn more about career management click here.

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