Power Women: 3 Ways to Overcome Workplace Stereotypes

HR and career development professional shares insider secrets to success

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After spending years observing and studying the attributes of career success in the eyes of a man, I’ve begun to realize a very harsh reality. What has become evermore noticeable to me is the fact that women are treated differently than men in Corporate America. To put it bluntly, from the job search phase and throughout their careers, many women experience unfair judgment and treatment based on stereotypes. Unfortunately, many also experience the glass ceiling that undermines career advancement partly due to longstanding negative stereotypes that follow women; and these career-damaging labels sometimes open the door for workplace bullying.

I interviewed Sandra Walker, a professional in the human resources and educational sector, to learn more about some of the challenges that young professional women encounter.

Walker admits that when young female professionals search for career opportunities they are often perceived as lacking the leadership skills that would enable them to eventually run a department or organization. From her experience working with college students and young careerists, Walker says young women face the challenge of being viewed as having deficiencies in maturity and the ability to take charge of their careers.

To overcome workplace and other career barriers, Walker emphatically encourages young professional women to follow these three simple pieces of advice as they begin their career journeys:

Build a stellar résumé and make sure that you can deliver on your stated results.

Seeking experiences that will help you enhance your résumé is a must, Walker says. Effectively analyze your skill-set to determine what actions you must take to boost your portfolio, and learn how to interview like a pro, she advises.

“Speaking to your résumé is like conducting a sales technique through persuasion,” Walker adds. Young women should exhibit a high level of healthy confidence and influence. “Don’t say ‘I think’ or ‘I may be able to do’ such-and such. Change your words to ‘I know’ and ‘I can.’ ”

Once you land the job, learn what it takes to stay there and become promoted.
There are scores of women who have fallen short of their career goals because they thought their finish line was the job offer. As a result, they accepted the job but failed to properly learn the rules of the corporate game within their industry. Walker encourages women to read more to accelerate their learning curve and career growth.

Own your destiny, but be careful of becoming too independent and headstrong.
Some women unknowingly overcompensate for their perceived weaknesses in corporate America, Walker says, but you don’t have to exude a super ego in an effort to protect yourself from making mistakes or showing signs of weakness. “It’s okay to be human and make mistakes because obstacles are opportunities for greatness,” she says.  “In fact, sometimes you have to fall in order to get to the next level. Take your failures with a grain of salt and learn from them; and be better next time. If you fail that’s news for that day, but by the next day it will be old news—so keep pushing.”

Antoine Moss, Ph.D., (@2PositiveTweets) is a nationally recognized resource on internships, early career achievement, leadership and motivation. CEO and founder of CEO Style Consulting L.L.C., Moss empowers professionals and organizations to reach their full potential, and serves as speaker, workshop instructor and consultant. The author of Learn to Intern CEO Style, Moss has been a featured expert on outlets including Fox 8 TV News and George Fraser’s 2011 Power Networking Conference.

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