Hi, I’m Billy Mays, It’s Billy Mays, Here, Hi

By Liv Stephens

We all know that guy at work who won’t stop talking about himself. I mean, it’s like dude, how many times can you talk about yourself the way Billy Mays (RIP) talks about OxyClean?

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Beautiful!

Men and women talk about themselves differently at work, it’s true. So it would only make sense that they also talked about themselves differently online on social networking and business networking sites.

In 2012, researchers Eimler, Drapkina, Pfänder, Schliwa and Schawohl restate the long-tested idea that men on social networking services (SNS) emphasize power, occupation or status, and masculinity. Women, on the other hand, stress relationships, communication skills, and feelings. But, these researchers specifically wanted to know if this was also true on business networking services (BNS).

To do this, they looked at 200 BNS profiles on the most popular BNS website in Germany: Xing. They examined 100 male and 100 female profiles quantitatively for number of words, number of contacts, and number of groups they participated in or moderated. The profiles were also analyzed qualitatively for business elements (achievements, descriptions, task-oriented phrasing) and non-business elements (feelings, family and friends, networks, creativity, sports, smiling in the profile photo etc.).

What they found was that women make an effort to appear friendlier by smiling and listed more information about themselves in their profile. Men stressed their seriousness and competence through body language, not smiling in their profile picture, and by using more qualifying adjectives. Men also moderated and participated in more professional groups on the site. There was no difference between men and women when it came to listing awards they had received.

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BUT WAIT THERE’S MORE

It’s important to understand that men may be receiving more advertising on BNS sites by being visible as moderators in networking groups and using more qualifying adjectives—but this does not mean that women are actually less qualified. The problem with this is iif an employer is comparing the profile of a man and the profile of a woman, the man will still seem more qualified no matter the actual reality. Crazy!

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Here’s how to order!

So women, get in there and write some text about how frickin’ qualified you are. Don’t be afraid to seem impersonal by claiming the work you’ve done and the leadership skills you have—in the end, that’s what the site is for, and clearly men are already doing it.

I see London, I see France, I see…

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Me in France in fall of 2016, gracefully walking myself away from all of that gender inequality nonsense.

By Eliana Huffman

I see London, I see France, I see gender inequality all over the darn workplace. Case in point? At one French company in particular that I’m going analyze for you for the next 500 words.

Lady boss researchers Cécile Guillaume and Sophie Pochic interviewed 60 people, of either top management positions or ranked as “top potential”, within a large French company on the issue of women’s ability to access top positions and corporate diversity in general. They combined  interviews with secondary informationHR and workplace statistics provided by the company’s private databasefor analysis.

In short, the researchers confirmed that the glass ceiling is very real; women who worked at the company faced a whole lot of barriers to success that men didn’t. Some of the biggest ones? Promotions later in their tenure with the company than men, little support for employees who chose to raise a family (tackling child care and family work is a role that is usually socially prescribed to women), and being considered less educated for attending liberal arts schools even if the subjects were functionally transferrablefor example, being frowned upon for having a B.A. in Public Relations even if a B.B.A. in Marketing would produce a nearly identical skillset.

Additionally, almost double the amount of women as men in the company were partnered with someone who also worked for the organization. Those women consistently held lower rankings in the organization than their spouse, and did more family work at home. So in the wise words of Billy Rae Cyruswhat to heck? This implied that the organizational climate was more favorable towards men, even plucked from a partnership where both spouses worked full-time professionally, and obviously had the same socioeconomic status.

Now let’s talk about what this means for us. What can we do to stop organizations like this one from hindering women so much? And what is the greater impact that we can have for gender equality long-term?

We can start with paid family leave policies. Paid family leave has been proven to reduce the wage gap, help women be more productive at work, and boost their salaries in the long run.

And with this knowledge, how can men do their part to reduce the wage gap and make the workplace more friendly towards women? Well, easily enough, they can do the laundry, be there to take dinner out of the oven, change diapers or pick up around the house. All of these things reduce the amount of time women have to spend on housework and plus, contributing equally like this might increase men’s own relationship satisfaction and benefit them, too.

We can also vouch for greater HR training to teach recruiters the skill sets that different degrees and institutions of learning bring to the table, and spread information about the financial, and organizational, benefits of having people with great soft skills/feminine communication styles in the office.

So yeah, there’s London…there’s France…and do I see a beaconing horizon of hope over in there in the distance? Yep, that is definitely a beaconing horizon of hope. Let’s figure out how to get a little closer.

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.

What Jessica Day Taught Us About Work and Play

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By Erika Harrington

So my latest Netflix obsession is New Girl.

Have you seen the episode where the main character, Jess, joins a local politician for a game of golf with the other powerful women of Los Angeles. Her mission: to get new books for the middle school that she works in. It was a funny play on the ‘seal the deal over a game of golf’ trope that is associated with television CEO’s and senators.

At first I was pumped up at seeing all women in a traditional male dominated scenario, but then I became annoyed at how satirical the scene was. A game of golf, talking highlights from football Sunday, or (at least in the world of Wolf of Wall Street) going to a strip club, are all ways people have connected with their bosses and coworkers. They’re also incredibly gendered hobbies.

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Don’t get me wrong, I am all for these out-of-work recreational activities. Spending time with the people you work with, in a relaxed setting, is healthy and beneficial to professional environments. The problem occurs when the activities are based on traditionally masculine interests because women are informally, and probably unintentionally, excluded.

This is where Rachel Aslop comes in. Aslop was interested in different channels of informal networking used by professionals, so she studied the characteristics and benefits of four employee book clubs by interviewing their members. The results were basically what you expect to hear at a ‘key to success,’ motivational talk seminar about the importance of golfing with your boss. These book groups allowed coworkers to come together in a welcoming environment, get to know one another better, and make connections that strengthened their professional networks.

Thank goodness I don’t have to worry about blowing money on expensive golf clubs.

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But what if I hate reading and golfing and strip clubs? Then what do I do?

Well the beauty of this study isn’t that it’s suggesting that book clubs are the best way to network. Rather it shows the importance of exploring new and creative ways to develop professional relationships.

Don’t buy into the traditional image of sucking up to the boss while riding in the cart to the next hole. Think outside the box.

Network channels don’t have to be complex. The Economic Times recently published an article with the story of four women from different departments, frustrated with being stuck in their mid-level management positions. They began to meet for lunch once a month to talk about their work lives.

Over time, they began to progress in their jobs. How? When one woman was talking to people in her departments, she would mention one of other three women and the great work they had done. This got their names circulating throughout the company and allowed their accomplishments to be shared without them having to brag about themselves (something women have been known to struggle with, but that’s for another post).

So find something you can do with your coworkers to bond with each other, that is free from the stress of the 9 to 5 work day. Go bowling every Wednesday, set up a carpool, etc.

BTW, anyone interested in binge watching New Girl together?  

Say Her Name, Say Her Name

By Liv Stephens

It’s time to talk about a little bit of Monica, Erica, Rita, Tina, Sandra, Mary, and Jessica.

anigif_enhanced-28999-1428709735-5Lou Bega was definitely not afraid of name dropping when he wrote the jive pop 1999 classic Mambo No. 5.  However, the song has us vibing for more than one reason; it promotes female autonomy!

No, it’s not a trap. You see, research suggests that male and masculine voices address women using language that identifies women through their relationships with other people. It is almost never done with malicious intent, and research basically chalks it up to a style of speech that men learn by talking with other men called “attachment erasure”and it looks kinda like this:

“This is so-and-so, she’s that one dude’s __________ [girlfriend/roommate/sister/cousin/ hookup/friend/classmate/dog groomer]”

Or this:

“Oh, I know you! You work for/with ______ [the name of your sweaty co-worker] ”

You may not have even noticed it before, but everyone does it to everyone.  It’s hard to not fall into this language pattern.  The problem is that references to women are much more likely to use attachment erasure than references to men. This means that womens’ networking looks and sounds a lot different than mens’.

Here’s the deal: generally speaking, we prefer to network with people who we like.  And research indicates that we like people more when we perceive them to be similar to us.  It’s called the principle of homophily.

Here’s why that matters: A 2006 study conducted by Vasilyeva and Doerfel interviewed and surveyed employees of a retail company to study differences in the ways that guys, gals, and androgynous pals communicate. Among the tsunami of relevant findings they uncovered, they found that women need a higher degree of homophily (aka social sameness) than men do when networking with men in their field. As in, women need to be seen as similar to the man they are talking to in order for social attachments to form.  Unfortunately, this “one of the guys” feel is confirmed through statements of attachment erasure.  

Men, on the other hand, do not need need to establish similarity through others to affirm their attachments in the workplace, and can instead assert their sameness through personal characteristics such as similar goals, activities, or achievements.

A 2016 article by Susan Durbin explains that mentor relationships that involved at least one woman were only reported to form between those who already had common social connections, often initiated through a statement of attachment erasure.

This might look like:

“Oh, you’re Linda’s cousin!”

“Hey, did you work for Tom over at Company Inc.?”

Men, on the other hand, were able to create mentoring relationships via activities and hobbies both internal and external to the workplace.

That might look like:

“Hey, did you also go to Expensive University?”

“Were you the guy who gave that presentation at that conference last week?”

You get the picture.

So, what does this mean for women? Women must focus especially on their social credentials, and not their personal credentials, to boost their networking abilities. The semi-unfortunate truth is that who they know may be more important than what they know. In order to regain their autonomy, women must establish personal similarities (or what the research calls attachments) instead of social attachments through other people.

We can all help close this attachment gap by referring to people of all genders using their personal characteristics, instead of their social connections.
Bega said it best: you “must stay deep, ‘cuz talk is cheap.”

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to comment. We love to hear what you have to say, and as always, thanks for reading The InformHer.

The girl power hour

By Eliana Huffman

Beyonce. Angela Merkel. Emma Watson. Michelle Obama.

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We are hashtag #blessed to live in an era graced by so many influential women. They serve as role models, mentors, and further— in a professional context—allies.

According to a recent analysis of 5,679 workplaces located in Texas, more women in charge within an organization leads to increased gender-integration across all employees, regardless of status. This means that for every position within an organization, women and men are given equal opportunities to obtain said position, as well as opportunities to be promoted from it. This gender-integration also includes more equal pay for equal work.

But what does this mean overall? For one, it means that women are agents of change. Climbing up the corporate ladder is already challenging for most, and near impossible for some, especially women. However, this study goes to show that a little girl power goes a long way.

It’s easy to see other women as competition, in more ways than one. We live in a world that’s overly conducive to tearing each other down, and in fact encourages it (thinking of mainstream media examples here, like Taylor Swift’s “Bad Blood” music video, or the movie Mean Girls).

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In a professional setting, this behavior doesn’t always stop. According to a recent study done at Bentley University, over 50% of respondents said that women-specific networking programs would be beneficial [to women as a whole], and yet only 17% of people who sit on corporate boards in the United States are women.

Houston, we have a problem.

What can we as individuals do to fix this? Well, for starters, include women in your professional network. Seriously. Whether you’re a college student seeking a mentor, or you’re a tenured careerist wanting to pay your wisdom forward, have at it.

This goes for men too—serving as an ally not only makes you feel good, but actually pushes your own career forward. In the words of Meghan Casserly, Forbes magazine, “women are meeting, sharing and connecting in ways that men often shy away from. The result is lasting relationships that are the building blocks of future job placements, sales leads and partnerships.”

Now that’s more like it.

If you enjoyed this article, feel free to comment. We love to hear what you have to say, and as always, thanks for reading The InformHer.