It’s no secret that the workplace deck is stacked against women. In a recent Harvard Business Review summary of their 2017 research around women at work, the findings are bleak.
Women still face gender inequality at the office, and it’s not because they aren’t leaning in. It’s because of bias.
Women preemptively drop out of the running for executive roles because they’ve learned from experience that their contributions are not valued.
Male entrepreneurs are hailed as “promising”, “aggressive”, and “competent” while female entrepreneurs are derided as “inexperienced”, “weak”, and “good-looking”.
When it comes to layering relationships and family life on top of careers, women can’t catch a break. Single women are less ambitious because of marriage considerations. Married women who have high status jobs feel resentful or embarrassed by their lower-ranking husbands.
Let 2017 be the last straw for women who aren’t going to tolerate being second class citizens any longer.We lost the election, but hundreds of thousands of us marched in protest and are taking action to keep the momentum going.
Thousands of women are preparing to run for office.
Will 2018 be the year of women?
Let 2018 be a year of getting promoted, paid and elected. Let’s get more women in power to fight back against the men who want to put us in our place.
Large scale change happens one individual choice at a time, and I’m seeing it already in unexpected places.
A 50-something mom who is paid part time but puts in nearly full time hours told me she’s finally going to ask for more. Her husband told her to threaten to quit, but she’s managing the conversation in her own way.
A female executive in the tech industry told me she was hiring engineers who made more than she did, and she wouldn’t stand for it any longer.
A young government worker who thought she deserved less because she used “soft skills” in her job decided to speak up when she found out her colleague made $18,000 more than her.
Do you feel outraged and energized, but don’t know how turn your emotions into action?
Make 2018 the year of you.
I frequently advise women to use subtle behavior changes, like “think communally, act personally”, to mitigate the negative effects they might feel from negotiating for themselves. I usually say, “try these behavior changes because studies show they’re effective for women, and I want you to increase your chances of success.”
In practice, this means acting in ways that don’t challenge existing expectations of female behavior: showing your concern for others, actively demonstrating empathy, selling your ability to negotiate as a strength you bring to the team instead of just doing it.
It’s time to take bigger risks.
Each individual choice we make feels personal, specific to our own unique situation. But if every day we refuse to accept the status quo, commit to challenging expectations and standing up for ourselves, we can force real change.
Make this your year by getting a little selfish. What do you want and need? What's standing in your way? And how can you take bold action to achieve your goals?
When we witness or experience bias against ourselves or others, it’s time to speak up. Gather a coalition of supporters and call it out. Many voices are harder to silence than one.
When we hear language that’s dismissive of women, don’t let them get away with it. If a man says a female colleague is too cautious, tell him it sounds like she’s being sensible. Inexperienced? She has a fresh perspective. Too chatty? She has a strong network. Ask him — literally, ask him — “would you describe a man in the same way?”
When we get turned down for a raise or passed over for a promotion, know that although it might indeed be personal, it doesn’t mean game over. Some of the best advice I ever received came after I had been rejected from my dream job: “If you’ve never failed at anything, you’re not trying hard enough.” Yes, it’s harder for us to get to the top. But how else will we create the change we need if we aren’t decision makers?
If together, you, me, and all the women we know commit to making this our year — for more influence, fair pay and deeper satisfaction at work and at home — imagine what we can accomplish together.
Let’s get to work.
This post originally appeared in Women@Forbes, where Alexandra Dickinson is a contributor. She writes about how to use a negotiation mindset to achieve your goals.