#IWD2020: 3 Tips to Become a Fearless Woman in the Workplace and Get the Recognition You Deserve

By Jodi Cachey | March 12, 2020

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TIME Magazine just released a ‘100 Women of the Year’ project – a nod to all of the influential women who were passed over in the 72 years TIME named a ‘Man of the Year’. On TIME’s website, the magazine admits that even after changing the name of the game to ‘Person of the Year’ in 1999 (sidenote: why did it take that long?), the title all too often went to a man. For the new campaign, TIME has selected 100 female powerhouses whose accomplishments were overshadowed by men in the last century, redesigning 100 magazine covers and giving the women included well-deserved and long overdue recognition.

The TIME campaign was launched in conjunction with this year’s International Women’s Day, a day we as a society use as an opportunity to check in on the progress we’ve made towards gender equality. While I both applaud TIME’s effort to rewrite history (or at least, right their wrongs) and appreciate the celebration of how far we’ve come, I also know we still have a long way to go. So instead of looking back, ala TIME, let’s look forward and use the stories of progress touted alongside #IWD2020 and #eachforequal this year as the motivation we all need to move the needle even further, faster.

The Pay Gap is a Tricky Reality

In 2019, women made 79 cents for every dollar a man earned. That’s frustrating. But what’s more frustrating is that if you level the playing field, factoring in “controls” including job title, industry experience, location, and industry, a woman actually makes much closer to what a man does. In a controlled scenario where all of these factors align, a woman earns 98 cents for every dollar a man earns. How do we explain these vastly different numbers?

According to PayScale, “women are less likely to hold high-level, high-paying jobs than men. There are structural barriers which keep women from advancing in the workplace – this is what we call the opportunity gap.” But an opportunity gap in 2020 where women are outnumbering men at a record high at universities all over the world just doesn’t make sense. So what gives? How do we as women ensure we are getting a seat at the table and paid a fair salary? Here are some tips:

1. Speak up

In a Bloomberg study of 155,000 conference calls over 19 years, men spoke 92% of the time. Another study published in the American Political Science Review found that women speak 25% less on average in meetings than men do. And yet another study found that both men and women are more likely to interrupt someone if they’re female. 

With men dominating conversations in the workplace, it’s no wonder that women are at a disadvantage when opportunities to advance their careers arise. It’s easy to see a man as the ideal candidate when he’s the only one who’s had the chance to present his ideas and establish himself as a thought leader or subject matter expert. To get ahead at work, you must speak up. Actively participate in meetings, volunteer your expertise when the opportunity presents itself, interject when you notice male colleagues commandeering conversations, and politely but firmly resist interruptions when you’re speaking. 

2. Say “No”

I know, I just told you to speak up and saying “no” feels counterintuitive. Good news – you can still say “yes” but only to the right things. When I started a previous role for a previous employer, I was the only woman in our Chicago-based office. With employees spread across the globe, our regional manager hosted working lunches anytime our European counterparts were in town. The first time I attended one of these meetings, he pulled me aside and asked if I could order lunch in for the team. And I did, assuming he had asked me because I was the most junior-level person in the room. Until I wasn’t. 

As the company grew and more male colleagues were hired, I was still expected to handle the catering. It wasn’t until a female executive visited and told me to stop that I realized I was pigeonholing myself. “We’re discussing important things in these meetings, and I know you have good ideas to bring to the table,” she said. “Nobody is going to take you or those ideas seriously if the only other conversation you’ve had with them was about deli meat. If they can’t order their own lunches, they should hire an administrative assistant to do it for them.”

Say “yes” to opportunities outside of your domain to advance your career path or pick up invaluable experience. Say “no” to tasks given to you strictly because they align with traditional gender roles. 

3. Know your worth

It’s true that men are often paid more than women because they’re in higher-paid industries or positions. But that doesn’t mean that flat out pay discrimination doesn’t happen. In 2015, Salesforce.com recognized a pay gap between their male and female employees that would cost upwards of $6 million to remedy. Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO, was quick to fix the problem and put new guidelines in place to ensure it didn’t happen again. But not all companies are that self-aware and many couldn’t afford to fix the problem even if they were. 

Before you accept a new position, do your research. Websites like Glassdoor, PayScale or Salary.com can offer insights into what other companies are paying for your experience and expertise. And always negotiate. Glassdoor estimates that failing to negotiate can cost you up to $600,000 over the course of your career. If you’re comfortable, you could even ask a male colleague what their salary requirements are to ensure you aren’t shortchanging yourself. 

The progress highlighted on this year’s International Women’s Day is amazing. We’re making great strides to close both the pay and opportunity gaps. But we can always do better. Whether it’s a pledge for parity, an internal audit, or simply empowering your female employees to have a louder voice or more seats at the table, I encourage you to do better with us. 

For more information on how to conquer female-specific challenges in the workplace, check out our latest webinar featuring Barbara Giamanco, CEO of Social Centered Selling and Host of the Women in Sales podcast.

Jodi Cachey is the Content Marketing Director at Mediafly, where she is responsible for all content marketing initiatives to drive traffic, engagement, and leads. With over a decade of experience in the tech space, her previous roles include sales, business development, sales enablement, and product marketing. Jodi attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Media Studies.

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