Like it or not, people still perceive differences between men and women that often have no basis in reality. At Money Matters, we discussed how this is a symptom of the different messages and values that society sends men and women, as well as the stereotypically “male” traits that are valued in the workplace.
While the effects are difficult to detect, they’re even harder to combat because they are often subconscious (as has been repeatedly demonstrated in social/psychological studies like the Heidi/Howard study.)
How do you fight the subconscious? We can influence our impressions by emulating some of the traits associated with power and mimicking certain behaviours:
- Pausing is power. Nodding is not. Refrain from nodding throughout a conversation, as it can be misinterpreted as being in agreement or subservience.
- Slow your voice cadence. Lower your pitch. Women have higher pitches by nature, but a high-pitched, rushed voice from a man suggests nervousness and is generally viewed that way.
- Old girls’ clubs. You may not have experienced it yourself, but women can feel unwelcome at certain gatherings organized by “the boys”. Women have taken matters into their own hands and are hosting similar events with an objective to network and hash out business. Join one or start your own!
- Power poses. A little bit of "fake it til you make it" can go a long way. Amy Cuddy's TED Talk demonstrates some proven poses that produce real physiological and psychological effects.
As more women lead in powerful positions, the associations between “feminine” traits and power will strengthen, and we will no longer need to accentuate or adopt more “male” attributes to get ahead.
Tracy, thank you so much for all the great advice and stimulating conversation. These two posts cover only a portion of everything we learned.
Tracy holds pro bono finance sessions at Sophia Financial Group (see their event schedule under the News & Events tab). Bring your goals, questions, or just pop in to introduce yourself. It’s something you won’t regret!