I went to a workshop at the weekend and i was talking to the women there about what i do here at Diosa Coaching. I was explaining to them that i feel there is a real issue in the workplace at the moment with women feeling like they need to be more like men in order to succeed. They agreed with me whole heartedly, especially in very traditional areas of business.
How does this manifest itself?
- We become less sensitive to others around us
- We loose our intuition or choose to ignore it
- We become less creative
- We focus on achieving, achieving, achieving instead of focusing on flourishing
- We bend over backwards to make men see us as their equals
- We spend all the hours in the world at work pushing and striving to be seen
- We become forceful and aggressive
- We stick our heels on in the morning along with our toxic masculinity
- We are surrounded by women who push us down because they got to where they are through hard work and don’t want us to replace them
Why is this a totally shit way to function in the workplace?
Don’t get me wrong – i’ve worked in business for over 10 years, so i really understand this dilemma. As women, still, today in 2019 we have to push harder than our male counterparts to be seen, to be heard, to be rewarded for the work we do. It’s incredibly frustrated because we have so much to bring to the table – yet outdated, stuffy and frankly stupid views of what women should be doing, clouds a lot of peoples views on our true worth in the workplace.
I’ll give you a little example – in a job that i had i was asked point blank by my Director (a woman i would just like to add in here) to have my name removed from a project that i had worked on for over a year because a Director that i worked with didn’t like me. I was a young woman managing the marketing for a project and i was told he felt threatened by this, so he wouldn’t sign off work and wanted constant revisions where his voice heard. So in order to hurry up the work as the deadline was imminent, i was asked to keep doing the work – but have my managers name put it on instead (a man!) so that the Director wouldn’t know that i was creating the work and would therefore sign things off quicker…. hmmm
I ended up leaving this company. I had worked there for a long period of time – making huge successes of projects, developing new teams, helping a team through redundancy and i got tired… just so, so very tired of constantly pushing. I am a very creative individual and incredibly passionate about what i was doing – and because i wasn’t being true to myself, because i was working in such a way that didn’t serve me – i got so stressed that i ended up being signed off work for 2 months, i had horrendous psoriasis, i was constantly ill and i don’t think i slept for more than 3 hours a night for those two months. I ended up resigning.
We deserve as women to have our voices heard without this feeling like we need to constantly push for our place at the table.
It manifests in so many negative ways – if you have a lot of feminine energy (i.e. you’re very creative, you are intuitive, nurturing etc.) then this can seriously eat away at your sense of self. Even if you exhibit more masculine energy (i.e. you’re very grounded, less creative, more grounded, strong, assertive) constantly needed to seek for validation from your colleagues about your place is EXHAUSTING.
What do i want to say to you dear women?
That is is OK to be yourselves. Yes, we all have to put our armour on every day in certain situations, but just ensure that at the end of the day or part way through the day when you have a good interaction with someone that you remember to take it off; because that armour gets heavy and you will burn out.
If you think of the psychological analysis tool – MBTI (Myers Briggs) your character is split down into four different facets. The reason i like this tool is because it’s a preference tool – which shows that ultimately we live and work in one way, but in certain situations we have to act in a different way. One way is not better than the other – it’s just that your preference is to be how you really are. I think that’s a good metaphor for how we have to be usually in the workplace. It’s fine to have to act in a different way in the workplace – projects and people will require you to shift your focus. However, all i will say to you is – if you have to show these men what they’re missing then hunny go for it – just remember to embrace your gentle when you get home.
How to deal with this need to be a man at work
Like i said – at work we often have to exhibit sides of our character that aren’t our preference. For example, you may be a very nurturing, creative, intuitive person but in certain situations at work we need to be strong, assertive, grounded and strong. That is absolutely fine.
It’s also fine to want to strive at work – to place ourselves in situations that are outside of our comfort zone – because if we aren’t pushing ourselves we will never grow.
However, if you’ve found yourself in a situation where you are striving for a situation, project or for validation because of our womanhood then you need to ensure you find balance to appeal to that other side of your character. We can do this by:
- ensuring that ‘outside of our comfort zone’ isn’t making you miserable
- understanding that some level of stress is good for our bodies – it helps us find motivation and strength, however, if you’re in a constant state of stress – this is horrendous for our health
- knowing that as a woman, we bring a lot of skills that are essential for our companies – and that it is not a requirement to loose our sense of self just to make ourselves seen
- seeking support if we feel we are being taken for a ride
- walking away from situations that dim your shine. Remember that you literally do not have to stay in situations that do not make you thrive – yes it’s bloody scary walking away from jobs, relationships, comfort – but sometimes it opens doors you never thought imaginable
- realising that although women can often have a difficult time of it in the office (or home or wherever actually) due to people’s outdated visions of what a woman’s role is – but that your skills, values, belief systems are ingrained in you for a reason – find the role, company, job that sets your heart on fire and DO THAT
- things are starting to change, the world is slowly evolving away from a woman’s typical role and this is wonderful – keep showing up, making your voice heard, do not settle for less than you deserve. Because you deserve it all.
Photography by fine artist – Andrea Torres