Anytime a man (and I ‘are’ one) attempts to discuss the challenges faced by women in leadership, it’s a risky proposition.
What the hell… I’ve never been much for dancing around an issue, and this one presents a legitimate question:
To achieve professional success, must women learn — and get better at — networking “like a man,” or should a woman’s approach differ significantly solely because she’s a women?
This article is a Forbes piece that discusses this issue. I don’t portend to know the trials and tribulations that a professional woman faces in ascending the corporate ladder; I do know it can be a difficult path for some. I’ve personally seen women face challenges in their professional growth that I did not face, and at least part of the reason was gender.
So, I do appreciate the potential roadblocks, even if I can’t say something so trite as “I know exactly what you’re going through…”
Using real-world practices then, as a filter, should women with higher career aspirations learn to network like men (presumably to reach outcomes “more like men”), or does that downplay the need for doing it differently?
You want to know what I think?? Of course you do, that’s why you’re reading this… 🙂
I think women should simply get better at networking, not necessarily do anything different because of their sex. And before I raise any hackles, this is the same advice I give aspiring men. Network. Do it sincerely, make an effort, do it as if your career depends on it, because it does.
Do women face challenges in climbing the ladder that men don’t face? Of course they do. Corporate USA has made some strides, but still has a long way to go. The reality, then, is that women should be networking more and better than men (sort of like the “dancing backwards and in high heels” joke), and I seldom see that.
Not that men are really good at it, and certainly not because they’re men; but if you face a systemic obstacle (or even perceive you face one), your efforts must be bigger, stronger, and faster than those who do not face that obstacle.
Those obstacles could be sex, race, sexual orientation… they could be professional background, newly separated military, or later-in-life career-changers. Whatever the real or perceived obstacle, your efforts — particularly around networks and relationship-building, must be redoubled. Victim or victor, it’s largely your choice in the long run.
Some would say “that’s not fair.” I shouldn’t have to work harder just because of some of those things… to that, I say “You want fair?” It comes to most towns once a year; they have rides, and clowns, and cotton candy. That’s about the only reliable “fair” you’ll see around here. Life’s hard, wear a helmet.
I say, make your own ‘fair.’
But that’s just me…