Historically, men were the only members of society who were permitted to work professionally, while women were confined to the roles of wife and mother. However, as society evolves, we see a progressive integration of women into the workplace and the business sector. Men, who have had centuries to grow accustomed to these roles, have developed a sense of entitlement and find it relatively easy to maneuver through the ins and outs of the business world and come out on top. Women, on the other hand, who are still adjusting to these roles, tend to have more difficulty as it relates asserting their authority and demanding the acknowledgement of their worth.
“I didn’t learn to be quiet when I had an opinion. The reason they knew who I was is because I told them.” Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox
This difference in the level of success between men and women in the business sector can be explained with one word: confidence. Men tend to overestimate their attributes and overlook their flaws, which makes them more likely to take chances when doing business and to make more demands when negotiating. They are confident. Women are the opposite. We tend to devalue our attributes and obsess over our flaws, making us unwilling to make demands even when we are in a position to do so. Our lack of confidence is a major hindrance to our success in the business world.
It is a fact that women who have been successful in business are those who are confident in their ability to succeed. Ursula Burns, Chairman and CEO of Xerox, once said, “I didn’t learn to be quiet when I had an opinion. The reason they knew who I was is because I told them.”
Many female businesswomen and entrepreneurs lack Miss Burns’ assertiveness. They are reluctant to express their opinions out of fear that they will not be well received or that doing so may cause them to be viewed as overbearing. This timidity in the workplace causes women to be undervalued and ultimately prevents us from advancing to the upper rungs of the occupational ladder in most situations.
Conclusively, if we women are to successfully compete in the workplace, we need to develop our self-esteem. To achieve this, we must:
- Be well-versed in whatever industry or field of business that we choose to enter: When we are knowledgeable, we are more confident about expressing our opinions and ideas because we have background information about the topic and know that we are likely to be correct or to make sense to others because our theories are based on facts.
- Examine our work against the work of others: This will give us a good idea of our level of productivity and the amount of work we are getting done. It will ultimately give us a good sense of our work!
- Be outspoken: If we feel that our works and efforts are going unnoticed or unrewarded, we need to be vocal about it and ask what we believe we deserve!