The “You Know What” In The Boardroom

How can I put this delicately…us b***** got to stick together!

There are common stereotypes for women in the workplace. You’re either the sexy secretary, the ball buster in the boardroom, or the wallflower/people pleaser. I’ve encountered every type and often wonder how I will fit into that world. I tend to be a people pleaser, but also expect respect for my ideas and contribution to a project.

I LOVED this article from FastCompany, because I connected with what one of the women had to say about being a woman and being a hard worker. It’s hard for women to navigate the expectations and the differences in being liked, being respected, or both.

success and likeability

Here’s an excerpt:

Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook, is undoubtedly a mover and shaker. The woman behind Mark Zuckerberg also happens to be the social network’s highest paid exec and has the sort of resume any successful business person (man or woman) would love to have–think chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury and VP of global online sales at Google.

And while it’s clear that she’s deep in the trenches both at home and in the office, Sandberg did say, “There’s no such thing as work-life balance. There’s work, and there’s life, and there’s no balance,” in an interview for the Makers series from PBS and AOL

That may be why, in that same series of interviews, Sandberg confesses that even though she was voted most likely to succeed in high school, she asked a friend on the yearbook staff to remove the reference because it was “uncool” and admits that for women, success and likeability is a trade-off

That’s brilliant! I was also voted Most Likely To Succeed, and was embarrassed that it was in the yearbook (instead of the coveted Most Involved or Miss THS) because I thought it was “nerdy” or an unflattering title for a dainty girl like me. I didn’t know it then, but even at 17, I was struggling with the trade-off of success and likeability. And the feeling that if I’m a successful woman, I lose my femininity. And even more, little did I know that this struggle has plagued women for decades (insert long diatribe on my current reading selection The Feminine Mystique here, but for time and Jason’s sanity sake, I’ll omit).

The article goes on to discuss the different stereotypes and challenges that women in the workplace face. I think what’s most important is for women to stay true to what they want to be. If you’re not the tough exterior type, don’t be that way, but don’t let people take advantage of you. If you are the tough, go-getter type, good for you–but don’t be afraid to show a softer side when it’s appropriate.

Be who you are, and be supportive of the other women around you. They may not show it, but they are probably going through the same struggle as you.