Should men be allowed at women’s marches?

Should men be allowed at women’s marches? Well obviously, they should.

But, if you’re like me, after the women’s march you committed an age-old atrocity: giving men more credit for doing the same (or even less) work as women.

Men who went to the Women’s March on Washington and elsewhere got a lot of credit, acclaim, and Facebook shares simply for being men at a women’s march. How hip, how cool, how modern ~male feminist~ of them to opt into something that supports women.
Eyeroll, eyeroll, eyeroll.  

Just as in anything else, women do not get as much credit as men for doing the exact same thing.

But before we go any further, we need to establish that this is not an attack on men who are allies or consider themselves “male feminists”. Allying yourself with protests and advocacy groups is difficult for anyone, even those with the most social power. If you are one of the male march attendees, thank you for your participation, passion, and gumption. Now, let’s take a closer look at your role.

Feminist scholars and marchers have asked: should men even be allowed at women’s movement protests and marches? What impacts do men have in women’s spaces? How do they orient themselves within movements? These are easy questions to ask if you’ve ever wondered what men give to or get out of feminism.

According to Kelsey Kretschmer and Kristin Barber (2016), there are answers to all three of these questions. Their research analyzed newspaper coverage of Take Back the Night and Slutwalk events, two recurrent feminist marches that protest sexual assault and sexual violence against women as well as victim blaming.

At a basic level, their research revealed that keeping men out creates more media attention for these events.

First, movement boundariesevent boundaries (or declarations of the in and out crowd) are as old as feminism, and have been used along lines of race, gender, sexuality, age, and ability. Kinda like the VIP section at a club, or eating with the popular kids in middle school; declaring in and out crowds creates power where power did not exist before. And, those who are declared ‘in’ are given power they might not have had previously. In everyday life, women are not part of this in-crowd. Giving them this social power is key to healthy protest and sustained marches.

But declaring women in sometimes means declaring men out. Take Back the Night (TBTN), for instance, has historically flipped the script of public protest by distinctly asking men to not participate because it would shift the center of focus away from women’s issues. However, this sharp event boundary almost always garners media attention, and allows organizers to highlight their core issues and demands. TBTN events that did not specify participant gender typically had less media coverage, if any at all.

Uninviting men can be better for the march in terms of media coverage, but also allows men to re-assert themselves as a group who inherently deserve to be permitted in the space.

By not including men in order to keep focus on women’s issues, organizers gave men a platform to have their opposition voiced. The focus cannot be shifted away from men.

Second,  Kretschmer and Barber conclude that (not including counter-protesters and non-participants) men orient themselves in three distinct ways in women’s marches:

Men as allies:
“I can’t believe this happens, and I am here because I want it to stop happening.”

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Men as victims:
“I can’t believe this happens to you. It happens to me too. We can work together to stop it.”

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Modern organizers of TBTN and Slutwalk have begun to shift focus away from violence against women, and toward male violence against all people because of these identities.

Men as co-opters:
“I can’t believe this happens! But it is important for me to be here to show that not all men…”
“I am here today because I think that men get a bad rap…”
“I’m not like other men…”
“Men also have it pretty tough…”

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Co-opting is bad for the co-opter and the co-opted because it unnecessarily and ineffectively disqualifies what is being protested, without actually solving anybody’s problem.

If you’re a man with a feminist plan (and we hope you are!), it may be time for you to evaluate your role in the movement if you have ever fallen into the trap of co-opting. If you find yourself in a space created by and for women, use your voice not to speak over the voices of said women but to instead help amplify theirs. While men’s issues absolutely deserve to be heard, consider the context in which you want to deliver these messages; there’s no reason men’s voices need to compete with or broadcast over top of women’s in a space designed for women.

Who run the world…girls?

By Bronwyn Neal

No one can sing it better than the queen herself, but do Beyonce’s catchy lyrics stand a chance when it comes to real-life scenarios?

I like to think that, as women, we stick by, stand up, and support one another in the male-dominated world that we live in. Whether women succeed by holding executive positions in fields where women are greatly underrepresented or by becoming the icons of pop, we like to say that women leaders have paved the way for future women to follow.

However, research shows this is not usually the case.71720534877071b1652946ab8af22a4c

In 1922, the first woman was appointed to the U.S. Senate, yet more than 90 years later women still only account for 17% of senators. Similarly, in 1972, the first woman was promoted to CEO of a Fortune 500 company; today, still only 24 (out of these 500 CEOs) are women.

So why are other women not following the trailblazers who have cracked the glass within male-dominated fields?

Researchers Kaiser and Spalding set out to answer this question. Ninety-five white female undergraduate students participated in an experiment they designed. Before their lab session, participants completed a test in order to determine how strongly they identified as a womanwe’ll just call it an identification test. The researchers then began their quest to discover why women, at times, help fellow women advance in male-dominated field, and at other times, favor men, therefore hurting the advancement of women.

The answer they came up with: it depends.

Researchers split the participants into two groups. Half of them were led to believe that they had been chosen to be a “lab manager” over two other competitors. More importantly, each “lab manager” received an oversized t-shirt to subtly emphasize that the manager position was meant for a man, and they were asked to sign a roster filled with 90% male names (to again make it apparent that they had been largely outnumbered by their male counterparts).

Each participant was asked to conduct a test that would help select an assistant manager, which involved giving away clues that could be helpful or unhelpful.

The other half acted as a control group and were given a scenario where they were not underrepresented and the role of “lab manager” was eliminated. Participants were asked to complete the same clue task under the notion that they were simply helping two other participants complete their next task, instead of trying to search for an assistant manager as the first group did.

But what did the researchers find?

They found that when women were underrepresented as “lab managers” and did not strongly identify as a women, female participants would most likely impede the advancement of women in that field. Likewise, women lab managers with strong identification did help women advance. When women were not underrepresented lab managers, however, their identification of being a woman had no bearing on whether or not she would favor a man or woman co-worker.

Why does this happen?

Women throughout history make it to the top but do not seem to bring women to follow in their footsteps. This may be because they are too busy focusing on their own careers (which systemic sexism makes much more difficult) to focus their attention on careers of other women or, like our participants in the study described above, many are simply not aware that their favoritism towards men impedes the advancement of women in the fields where women are not heavily represented.

Now that you have been made aware of one’s identification impeding or advancing women, will you help them run the world?
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Endless Cycle

By Erika Harrington

When it comes to wage gaps, and the success of professional women, it’s easy to play the blame game. “It’s hyper-masculinity in the business world that makes work a toxic environment for women.” “It’s that women choose to have children and stay home with the family.” “Men are threatened by strong women.” “Women’s hormones make them too emotional to make big decisions.”

Enough.

The fact of the matter is that no one’s to blame, and yet we’re all to blame. Confused? Read on.

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There are decades worth of elaborate research on the presence of (and lack thereof) women in professional executive positions. And with all this research comes a Frito-Lay’s Variety pack of conclusions on who’s at fault for the issue. Trying to get through this chaos of explanations and figure out what’s really going on would be a major headache. Lucky for us, Ellen Ernst Kossek, Rong Su, Lusi Wu bore the burden for us. They basically went through the many (and I mean many) studies that have been done on the topic and pulled out some themes so the rest of us can get the overview.

“However, simply because women spend more energy on their families than men, this doesn’t mean that women want to  spend more energy on their families than their job.”

They found that here are many different factors that keep women from executive suites and we can all do a little more to make sure representation improves in board rooms.

Factors that keep top leadership positions from being equal are things like individual decisions of women, organizational climates, and role expectations. While our culture expects more of  women when it comes to home responsibilities and family, women also tend to opt out of work to spend more time with children than men. However, simply because women spend more energy on their families than men, this doesn’t mean that women want to  spend more energy on their families than their job.

This is why the climate of organizations also contributes to gender inequalities. The research indicates that many employers and organizations don’t offer helpful work-life balance resources. Child care options that promote flexibility and better paid leave will help women to meet the professional goals that are important to them. It also crucial to remember that work-life balance isn’t a women’s issue, and describing it as one perpetuates stereotypes. The professional world needs to make sure work-life balance resources are offered to men and known about by men. This will promote a culture in which men share home responsibilities and are given the chance to spend the time with their families that they may have not been able to enjoy before.

Employers need to be more conscious of their practices that are making it difficult for women to thrive. This can be done using anonymous surveys, hiring an organizational change specialist, hosting a focus group, and more—anything that encourages employees to report what they’d actually need to succeed with their organization.

Organizations can also help be more inclusive by making the workplace an environment that supports female identities. Kossek, Su, and Wu found that research indicates women tend to choose fields that allow them to work with people instead of fields that force them to compete against people. Instead of these fields arguing that women should adapt to competitive natures of the job, they should be more open to potential benefits of collaboration in the field—because finding life-saving cures in the STEM field or growing a multi-million corporation doesn’t have to have a ‘Hunger Games’-esque climate.

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Employers also need to adjust what they define as commitment to work. Research again suggest that long hours and face-to-face work are valued over flexibility and telecommuting. But the latter allows employees to have better work-life balance and should be seen as just as hard working. To be fair, we could chalk this up to old assumptions about the way things “ought to be”—but these old assumptions can often be gendered. We all—men and women—need to recognize that we buy into these assumptions, we uphold stereotypes and create bias. Acknowledge it and fight any knee-jerk reactions to perpetuate it.

Okay, so that may have seemed like a long “brief” overview. I warned you that looking at the many causes of the lack of women at the top was going to be tough. But what isn’t tough is making the decision to address these problems. Taking the simple steps mentioned before can make all the difference.

Addressing all the factors of this issue can be messy but doing it is the only way to clean up the gender gap. We are all capable of taking at least minor steps to address bias in the boardroom, and it starts with you.

The Women’s March on Washington

By Rachel Garretson

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The Women’s March on Washington sent a potent message of hope for many who see fear and uncertainty in our future. Several of our InformHer team members attended the march in DC alongside our sisters and brothers across the country and the world. What they found was a powerful atmosphere of overwhelming inclusivity for all involved.

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Source: Slate

What made this march so successful that day? And how can we ensure lasting change?

Shiv Ganesh and Cynthia Stohl, from Massey University and UC Santa Barbara, respectively, can help us understand the answers to these questions. Ganesh and Stohl studied the Occupy Wall street movement by participating, observing and interviewing protesters who were a part of the Global Occupy movement in Wellington, New Zealand. The Occupy movement, in 2011, protested social and economic inequalities around the world.

Ganesh and Stohl concluded that the Occupy movement represented a new era of hybridity in protesting. They argue that there were many characteristics that marked the Occupy movement as a turning point, but we’ll just go over a two of them here and how we can use them to understand the Women’s March today.

Hybridity is the state of blending many separate and dissimilar elements into one new whole. This hybridity is demonstrated in both how the Women’s March was made popular and the inclusivity of its message.

Firstly, the planning and popularization of the march was certainly not limited to a single medium. Previously when researching the planning of a social movements like marches, we would try to determine a single source for the call to action, whether Facebook, email, or word of mouth. Ganesh and Stohl observed in 2011 that media and technology touched almost every aspect of our lives which made it almost impossible for them to pin down one source for the call to action. Five years later, it’s only harder. This message diversity is something that the organizers of the Women’s March used to the fullest by spreading the word through all different types of media.

A second way in which marches have hybridized is with their messages. Whether good or bad, today’s marches have a much broader messages than their more focused predecessors. Ganesh and Stohl showed us the beginning of this movement towards hybridity of message in the Occupy movement that incorporated local issues in the areas of individual marches into the larger message. This gave participants something concrete and personal to relate to instead of a vague ideal.

Likewise, the early planning of the Women’s March was criticized for focusing on white women’s concerns, but it grew to incorporate and bring together many causes. Part of that movement was to break down the ideals held by the originators of the march and diversify them to make them more personal to a wider variety of people.  Now the official statements express concerns of all minorities, including racial minorities, immigrants, the LGBTQ, and religious minorities. Critics might say that this unfocused message weakens the March and makes it unlikely that they will be able to accomplish any one objective. Supporters might say that this has transformed the March into a movement that will promote unity, and that feminism should really be intersectional after all.

There are points to both of these arguments, as well as the argument that this march was just a social flare up, an angry reaction to the election, and that it will fizzle out.

It is to easy to pat ourselves on the back and move on with our lives. But how do we keep up the momentum? Well, there are many ways.

For example, the Women’s March on Washington website is still providing leadership with their new campaign, “10 actions in 100 days.” The first two actions are already up and running and you can sign up to be emailed as they come out with the rest. But this should be just one string of your bow. As we’ve learned, hybridity is key when you want your message to be heard.

Donating and volunteering for causes close to your heart will also make a difference, as many are predicting that nonprofits will struggle in the next few years. All of us have many causes to be passionate about, and Ganesh and Stohl seem to be saying this is a good thing. It reflects our diversity of interests and our willingness to support causes that don’t directly affect us.

Lastly, and probably most importantly, is that we have to stay informed and aware of the world around us. As Alicia Key’s said in her speech at the DC march, “Our potential is unlimited. We rise.”

Man vans and dinnertime plans: family work and the wage gap

By Eliana Huffman

“I call it house work

‘Cause it’s life work

But I’m gonna throw shade

If I don’t get paid for this house work”

Jax Jones may be onto something here. In 2000, researchers Barbara Arrighi and David Maume found that women who do more “housework” than their husbands (after their professional days end) make proportionally less money than men who do more “housework” than their wives. Crazy, right?

The researchers discovered this by creating a survey (completed by 385 men) that considered the following three factors the most important in determining how spouses split up family work: available time, gender-role attitudes, and power dynamics. But before we continue, it’s important to note that all of these factors influence each other, and can’t be weighed without this context.

The major takeaways? When men feel that they’re subordinated or feminized in their professional jobs, they retaliate at home and don’t contribute as much to what they consider “feminine” household tasks: think cooking, cleaning, etc. Weirdly enough, women picking up more hours at work also didn’t increase the amount of family work that their respective husbands contributed—and in the reverse situation, when men picked up hours at their jobs, their wives yet again were the spouses that took on more family work.

Basically, in every scenario they studied, men either contributed the same amount of “housework” that they did before, or even less, regardless of the woman’s professional commitments. Still with me here?

Here’s the big kicker; with this information, the researchers determined that men not contributing equally to shared household tasks is a huge factor in the wage gap, and that women are held back in their careers because of it.

Why? When women are overwhelmed at home with family tasks, they lack the energy and confidence that males (who have female partners picking up the slack) have to seek promotions, ask for raises, and generally advance themselves in their careers. Further, women who report that they expected their husbands to contribute moreand don’t have these expectations metalso rank their marriages as less satisfying and more distressing than women who expect less. As a result, tensions like these led to many dissatisfied women simply quitting work, which decreases marital tension but decrease their experience and tenure—and all of the professional and financial advancements that come with them. 

So what is a woman to do when she’s feeling stressed both at home and at work, with less support from her partner than she deserves in an equal and healthy partnership?

article-2695134-1fb4024500000578-653_634x766I wish I could tell you there’s a simple solution, but there’s not. Communicating to your partner that you’re feeling overwhelmed and believe you should work on dividing family tasks equally is a start. And if you’re not already in a committed relationship, don’t commit to a person who hasn’t demonstrated an ability to share housework; Sheryl Sandberg says that picking your partner is one of the most important decisions a woman makes.

But this is a larger social issue, where it’s hard for men to contribute to family work even when they want to, because we lack structures like guaranteed paternity leave. Policies like this would normalize men contributing more equally at home (and they have worked very well in countries like Sweden). Along the same vein, we act as if men who drive minivans or change diapers are “heroes” for “overcoming stereotypes”which would be totally cool if we praised women for these same behaviors, but we don’t. We also unfortunately judge women who try to compensate by taking off long periods of work to care for children, while accusing others of being cold or unmotherly for returning to work “too soon” after a child is born. It’s just truly hard for women to win here.

Fortunately, the situation isn’t hopeless. Businesses have the power to adopt new policies that give parents more flexibility and work-life balance. The government has the power to encourage these businesses to do so. And ultimately, the people have the power to speak the heck up…and do their part.

It all starts with one man picking up a toilet bowl brush.

She’s Still Got It

By Erika Harrington

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As a soon-to-be college graduate, getting ready to enter the workforce, I’ve got a bone to pick with baby boomers today that refuse to leave the workforce. You’ve had your fun, and now it’s my turn to know the joy of a steady paycheck, saved capital, and credit. And apparently you all are working longer because every generation gets healthier and healthier and live longer lives. Which is cool and all, but come on–can’t you enjoy your health in retirement?

Okay, okay. I know you don’t deserve all the blame. The economy and personal debt crises are making it difficult for you to leave the workforce even if you wanted to. We can all agree, regardless of age, that that is lame.

Now that I’m done with my typical “millennial whining,” I will say that I’m loving the new trend of unprecedentedly older women remaining in the workforce much longer than their predecessors. It’s a true sign of progress to see women, who in past generations would have been weeded out of their jobs because of domestic pressures, experiencing fulfillment at later stages of their career. This also adds an exciting new question to the conversation surrounding professional females: what is it like to be an older woman in the workforce?

Researchers Carol Atkinson, Jackie Ford, and Nancy Harding recognized the need to investigate this new demographic of professionals. They interviewed 51 year old HR Director, Flora, to ask about the rewards and obstacles of working in this stage of life. Let’s take a look at some of the aspects of her experiences.

For one, there’s mentoring. Flora explained that entering this stage comes with a great deal of uncertainty. She can’t look to older women in her life like her mother or friends, because she doesn’t know many women who worked this late into their life at all. That’s tough. Being a female in the workforce is hard enough at the start, but if women don’t feel like they have any mentors to look to for help in continuing their career throughout later parts of their life, they might not be motivated to keep at it. And a cycle continues–a cycle that limits the shelf life of our careers.

Then comes a crossover between ageism and sexism. The researchers also discussed the new environment that’ll be undoubtedly formed in the professional world as the number of older women working increased. This environment includes the overlap between sexism and ageism that older women would inevitably have to face. Flora, like many women, also took a break to tend to her family. Coming back with gaps in her career is an obstacle unique to older women.

The cringe-worthy questions have switched from “Do you plan on having kids? How are you going to balance that with this job?” to “Are you sure you didn’t fall behind during the time you took off for your kids?”

Tsourcehe beautiful thing is that women in their 50s and 60s are paving a new way that female professionals in the past have not. They’re dodging the loaded speech and breaking stereotypes so that maybe, just maybe, the next wave of ladies won’t have to.

So as a millennial about to enter the workforce, who is lucky to have so many women with 20+ years of experience in their fields, I would like to not only apologize from my sassiness earlier, but also thank you for being an example to look up to when I plan out my long term professional goals. Not only do you show me that I don’t have to cut my career short for any reason, but you show me what bravery looks like in a world of uncertainty.

Never quit makin’ that money.

 

Fake People, Real Love.

By Erika Harrington

Teamwork makes the dreamwork and two is always better than one, right? Well yeah, kinda. And maybe not if you’re the type of person that gives all the credit for a job well done to your partner. The success of the group should mean success for all parties—and should is the key word here.

We’ve seen the research that suggests that women have trouble with self promotion, and tend to shy away from boasting about themselves. The problem reaches a different level when women start to give all the credit to their partner after a successful collaboration.

You know the moment when your boss asks, “How much do you think you contributed to the success of this project?” Please tell me you didn’t answer “oh it was all them.” Because we both know that’s not true.

Researchers Michelle Haynes and Madison Heilman found that women give their credit away more often than you might think. They set up an experiment in which participants worked on a project and were told that they and a partner working from a separate locationa partner they would never have any contact withwould have to complete individual tasks remotely. Their separate contributions would be compiled for the final product. The catch: the partner is completely made up.

Did you pick up on that? A partner, that only exist in the land of make believe, is supposedly helping these participants with their assignments when the reality is that no one is contributing but them.

This is where it gets really wild. When some participants were told that they had done good work, the researchers asked who they thought deserved the credit. And they said their partner. Their partner. Their completely not real, totally made-up partner who totally did not deserve credit for their totally fake help on the project.

drake-rips-jay-z-raptors-netsFake people, man.

I was speechless when I learned this. I couldn’t believe it. How could these women attribute all their greatness to some pretend person?

Okay, now let’s take a step back. Not all of the participants gave away their credit to Casper the Friendly Ghost™ and the Easter Bunny™. The male participants did a good job of talking about their contributions.

And this is a trend we know holds true for many, real professional women. We have trouble taking credit for our own success and we struggle to promote the skills that our employers have benefited from. It’s also worth mentioning that when the participants of this study were told that their remote partner was female, they tended to take more credit for their work. They simply gave into misconceptions about male superiority.

The solution here is so simple; own it like the queens of RuPaul’s drag race. giphy

The reason why you are constantly creating quality work and seeing projects you’re a part of achieve success isn’t because of everyone around you. And it’s definitely not because you’re fortunate enough to have male coworkers. It’s because of you! And it’s high time that you start making sure people know that.

Undoing Gender at Work

By Joey Konrad

Picture this:

You are a trained physician on a flight to Hawaii. A flight attendant announces over the intercom that a passenger has become unresponsive and a doctor is needed immediately. You rush out of your seat and run to notify the attendant that you can help. However, the attendant simply brushes you off and refuses to believe you are, in fact, a doctor.

The enormous amount of money and time spent at medical school and residency to finally reach the status of a practicing physician, and all of it washed away by a simple refusal to trust your words.

This situation is not a nightmare or work of fiction, but a personal account of events that actually unfolded.

If that’s not wild enough, this is not an isolated event. In 2009, Elisabeth Kelan conducted interviews with working men and women at technology firms. She found that women reported frequently struggling to be accepted by customers as technology workers. Eerily similar to the earlier story, one women had a customer refuse to believe she was an executive and lead programmer. They had the nerve to refer to her as a secretary during meetings and told her to take notes.

The interviews suggest that our thoughts about gender inform our thoughts about who is suited for different work.

Let’s look at some statistics that back up that statement.

The prevailing idea in American culture is that individuals are free to pursue whatever passion or line of work they choose. However, the workforce remains significantly gender segregated.

The U.S. Department of Labor occupational statistics reveal that women dominate caretaker fields; 96 percent of secretaries, 95 percent of childcare workers, and 91 percent of registered nurses are women. Meanwhile, women make up only 14 percent of engineers, 9 percent of construction workers, and 6 percent of programmers.200

And we’re supposed to believe this is just a coincidence?

What if we look at the earlier examples to account for cultural bias and assumptions?

The customer can refuse to believe the woman was an executive programmer if information technology is considered  “masculine” work. Furthermore, the customer assuming the woman was a secretary shows cultural assumptions that tell us what work is feminine.

Kelan noted that all the women interviewed described struggles with not being perceived as competent and legitimate in their workplace. Since programming is assumed to be masculine work, women’s ideas and skills are often ignored, so women face pressure and anxiety to legitimize themselves in the eyes of customers and co-workers.

So let’s talk about where we go from here.

Well first, we want to give a shout out to all women working in male-dominated fields. Any frustrations you feel about being taken seriously in your workplace are absolutely important. Your work blurs the lines between what is “feminine” and “masculine” work, and shows that people should be able to follow passions that inspire them.

But in case our encouragement isn’t enough – and it most likely won’t be – Elisabeth Kelan found that some women used business cards as a strategy for establishing legitimacy. Presenting cards early at meetings and interviews allows professional women to define themselves instead of customer’s assumptions.

You go girl!

Who you know or how you do?

By Rachel Garretson

The Gilmore Girls revival is out! But I promise, no spoilers if you haven’t seen it yet.

We’ve learned so much from this show: family, friendship, and of course…..work.

For example, watching  Rory use her network to get that meeting. Like so many of us, Rory is very independent. While we really admire her if-I-just-work-hard-I-will-make-it attitude, depending solely on hard work is a mistake many women make in the beginning featured-imageof their careers.

But you can’t just rely on hard work- sometimes we think that reaching out to others to get ahead is cheating, but it’s not. This is because there are good people out there who want to help you. What’s more, they’re probably going to need you back at some point too.

Also, it’s not just who’s in your network that matters. How you network is important, and research suggests men and women do this differently. Case in point: Yvonne Benschop studied the how of networking by interviewing 20 female and 19 male account managers about their networking practices. She found that there are four types of networkers:

The first is the aspirational networker who views networking relationships as a means to the end. They often value assertiveness, authority, and upward mobility. Their networks consist mainly of people in the higher echelons and they call upon them when they need to get something done.

The second type is the supportive networker, someone who views the relationship as the goal. They might stop by someone’s desk and catch up or take personal time to call and see how they’re doing. Even when they have something urgent to get done, they think of others and pay attention to their needs.

These types follow the traditional ideas of masculinity and femininity. They aren’t necessarily separate, and many of us blend the two, although Benchop found that women are indeed more likely to embrace the latter. However, we can see how solely supportive networking won’t get you as far, since you’re placing others above yourself.

These next two types deal with the degree of separation you put between work and personal life.

Instrumental networkers draw strict lines between work life and professional life. That’s not to say that an instrumental networker won’t have friendly relationships with their coworkers (after all, you’ll be more productive if you get along) but they will be clear that it is a business relationship. Unfortunately this may make you feel alone in your workplace.

Open networkers blur the line between work and personal networks. To them it’s all one big network. Sure, work is work, but open networkers are more….well, open about their personal lives, and consequently form more genuine and personal relationships at work.

dwp-insertOpen networking sounds great right? Best of both worlds! You’re upwardly mobile and get to have friends! But… women tend to be instrumental. So what’s up with women? Are they just your stereotypical type A, Miranda Priestly?

 No!

Why? We often assume a level of professionalism about men that we don’t extend to women. Consequently to emphasize their professionalism, women sometimes place strict boundaries between work and play

It seems to us that the best is a blend between aspirational and supportive and a tendency towards open. We women face enough in the workplace without having friends by our side. We want you to have the Lorelai-Sookie relationship you all deserve.

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Ladies: Modesty is Not the Best Policy

By Rebekah Peterson

Ladies, have you ever been told you did a great job and your gut reaction is to say:

“It was no big deal.”

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“It was just a little hard work.”

“I got some help along the way.”

Or, “I just got lucky”?

These are just a few examples of the ways women keep themselves from self-promoting, which is when you clearly articulate your strengths and accomplishments to a person to advance your professional career.

But why do women downplay their accomplishments?

In short, violating modesty norms (the expectation that women should be humble and modest and not talk about their own strengths) makes women uncomfortable. And research shows that women need to (and can) power through this discomfort if they want to be successful at work.

In 2013, researchers Smith and Huntoon randomly selected 78 women from a Northwestern university to write an essay for a scholarship application that promotes the merits of either themselves (breaking modesty norms) or another person as a letter of recommendation (not breaking modesty norms).

The researchers thought breaking the modesty norm would cause self-promoting women anxiety and in turn affect their ability to self-promote in their essays.

Turns out they were right.

When they asked the women about the experience of writing, the self-promoting women expressed less interest in the task, were more likely to adopt performance-avoiding goals (“I just wanted to avoid doing poorly on the task”), and felt they performed poorly.

But it wasn’t just the women themselves who judged their work poorly. The researchers took all the essays and had 44 new impartial research participants judge them. The catch was, the researchers reformatted the essays that were written about another person to sound like people were writing about themselves.  This way the judges couldn’t tell the difference between essays that were written to self-promote, and those that were originally written to promote others.  Result: the participants assessed the self-promoting essays as lower quality compared to those that originally promoted another person.

So, women couldn’t promote themselves as effectively due to their anxiety, but could effectively promote for another person.

Here’s where it gets crazy:

There was actually a second group of women who completed the same task, but they were told there was a black box in the room that generated subliminal noise and could cause them discomfort. In reality, the box was a fake and there was no subliminal noise.

But, the women who self-promoted with the supposed “subliminal noise” expressed more interest, adapted more performance-approach goals (“I wanted to do better than other students”), and felt their work was of higher quality.

So, it’s not that woman don’t have the ability to self-promote, they just need something to blame their anxiety about self-promoting on.

Does this mean all women should turn on a subliminal noise when they need to self-promote?

Of course not, but here are some tips:

  • Employers should recognize that women are downplaying themselves and work to encourage women to self-promote.
  • Women should recognize this makes them uncomfortable and practice talking about their own accomplishments so they can power through any anxiety.
  • Most importantly, women should support other women who self-promote and break modesty norms. Make a pact with your friends to call each other out when you’re downplaying and congratulate when you successfully self-promote.

So remember, next time you’re doubting yourself–you didn’t get lucky. You killed it.