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Top 10 Tips for Women in the Workplace

Updated on October 20, 2014
Enjoy my review.
Enjoy my review. | Source

Job Advice for Women

5 stars for New Girl On the Job

New Girl On The Job: Advice from the Trenches

Author: Hannah Seligson; Publisher: Citadel Press

I wish I had had access to New Girl On The Job: Advice from the Trenches before applying for my first job. High school did not include work readiness classes. Our graduation keynote speaker proclaimed that life was so hard we "would not make it, but become long-term failures." He told us we had no chance at all during a time of war in the Mideast and parts of Asia. Unfortunately, many of my class did fail in the workplace, especially the women, because of lack of preparation and support.

Ms. Seligson's book illustrates practical ways to avoid such career failures and how to ensure women's success in the world of work. She took her own horror of being first ill trained and then fired from her first job, turning it into an effective lesson for new workers. This book arms the new workforce with a strong first step toward success to stand against lack of information and support, discrimination, isolation, and bullying. It took me 20 years to learn this the hard way.

The author thoroughly interviewed working women of all ages in order to create an encyclopedia of experiences, with instructions regarding how to expand the good and stem the tide of the horrific. Information was willingly provided by ladies such as Soledad O'Brien of CNN's American Morning and the cosmetics tycoon Bobbi Brown, as well as newer recruits on the front lines of the career battle. Hannah pulls no punches: a sense of entitlement, gossip, and see-through clothes are big-time no-no's on the job; but so are bad bosses and sexual harassment. Hannah gives directions, "Takeaway" notes to keep handy, and even the correct language to use at work.

If such books as New Girl On The Job had been available in my earlier years, perhaps our keynote speaker would have said, "Work is serious but rewarding and you must leave part of the child behind and embrace the adult inside yourself. Older workers, both women and men, will be there to help guide you."

Armchair Interviews says: All women in high school, college, or transition from disability, divorce or public assistance will consider this book as gold.

Top 10 Best Tips For Women at Work

Map out a total career plan.

Plan for a life-long career and not just a job. You're going to spend a lot of time working, so make sure that you have the best possible career that suits you as an individual. You need to plan for advancement, education, professional development, and promotions in a line of work that you enjoy and where you can shine. Consider all of your most important interests and skills. Build your career on THEM. Make 1-year, 3-year and 5-year goals and when you meet them, make new ones.

See you at the top!

Negotiate your salary, benefits, and opportunities.

Equal opportunity is still not completely equal.

According to a study form the American Association of University Women , women one the job one year after college graduation earn only 80% of salaries that males earn in the same position, one year out of college. Some of this may be due to career choice differences between men and women; however, inequality can start on the very first day on the job.

To earn equally, you must negotiate from the very first mention of salary, benefits, and perks. Otherwise, as a woman, you will lose several 100,000s of dollars($) over your working lifetime.

While negotiating salary and perks behave confidently and assertively. Then negotiate challenges and opportunities with equal vigor. Sometimes if you go after more responsibility, the money will follow.

Adjust your expectations to reality.

Worthwhile endeavors, including careers, take time -- maybe decades, so grow some patience if you don't already have it. Some women CAN succeed quickly, but most have to work their way up the ladder of experience. Take the time to learn from your supervisors and bosses on the job -- both their successes and their mistakes. Keep notes and adopt the actions that work for success!

Build a strong, long-lasting team.

You need to net work with other women and with men in the workplace. These are your business contacts and your support system. Don't try to go it alone. You need many people from different fields to help you develop your career and act as advisers. Be genuinely loyal, honor commitments to peers and cowrkers as if they were your boss, and that loyalty will keep your team around you.

Manage every which way but loose.

Build good relationships with your bosses and supervisors and keep them in your circle of contacts as you move up the corporate ladder and possible out to new organizations. You also need peers at your own level and for women it's vital because many are already working against an "old boys' club" mentality. Jobs don't last as long as they used to, either, with the changing job market and advancing technology, so you will switch jobs and maybe careers more than once. The broadest network of professionals aware of job opportunities will be a life saver! Ask them to refer you to jobs; refer potential employees to them as well.

Support other women in the workplace.

This does not happen often enough. Be personable and likeable and value your peers -- both men and women. Don't look at other women as enemies who want to leave you behind on the corporate ladder.

Select at least one mentor. Become a Mentor.

Be involved in your workplace. Find mentors that are male and female. Ask them to be your mentor and don't wait for them to offer. Keep them in your circle of strength that is your network. Mentors less experienced professionals as well. Mentoring should provide lifelong relationships for us all.

Don't become a career-long "Assistant"

While young professionals of any gender may have a difficult time transitioning from college/home to a first fulltime job, young women face harder challenges. They are more likely to become "assistant-ized" --given largely administrative and secondary roles and waste their talents here for far longer than necessary. If they do a good job, they may be kept there in order to avoid training costs of a replacement and promtoin of costs of their new positions.

No Tiara, please!


Take off the tiara!

The "Tiara Syndrome" was named by Carol Frohlinger and Deborah Kolb, founders of the training and consulting firm Negotiating Women, Inc. They have seen that women seem to expect that if they do their jobs well, someone will notice and "place a tiara on their head" (give them a promotion and a raise). What really happens is that male coworkers are make substantially more money because they initiate negotiations to advance while the women sit and work. Women must learn not only to negotiate, but also to self-promote their skills in order to earn greater responsibilities along with raises and promotions.

Don't be a "doormat."

Put in extra time and effort in order to get ahead in your career, but also learn when to say "No." If you have one Saturday in six months where everyone in the workplace is coming to work for a big project, then go in (unless it is your sabbath day). However, if you are the ONLY person in your office to be required to work on days when the office is closed - say Christmas or 4th of July, then be suspicious.

Because women have sometimes been trained isince childhood to be "people pleasers", they are sometimes less assertive then men and more soft-spoken at work. Therefore, they are also more likely to be given the doormat treatment and result in what Ms. Seligson terms "work martyrdom" in which young working women work FAR longer hours than necessary (unproductive hours or "busy work") or are assigned meaningless work simply for the sake of bending to a boss's will.

Strong family and spouse support is vital, so don't lose it by working too much, especially in useless tasks. Advancing in your career world may mean moving to a new locale more than once and this may cause a family rift. Balancing work and family still affects women more than men, so consider all the angles

A more assertive door mat.
A more assertive door mat.

Mean Girls at Work?

Encouraging aggression, Internet job-search sites advertise that Generations X and Y need to "get in everyone's face" in order to achieve career success.

In my opinion that puts US society just a few paces short of the Star Trek Klingon tradition of the ship's first officer assassinating the boss for his captaincy.

The next question is, "If there are a lot of empty slots left by retiring Babyboomers, but Generations X and Y go to jail for committing violence in the workplace, who is going to work in America?"

However, female aggressive impulses can be channeled for good in the workplace.

The author of See Jane Hit-- a book instructing us about the near equality of male and female aggression, beginning with today's youth and Generations Y and X (including on the job) gives suggestions for steering female aggression positively. Author James Garbarino, Ph.D., holds the Maude C. Clarke Chair in Humanistic Psychology at Loyola University in Chicago and is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. He has advised the National Committee to Prevent Child Abuse, the U.S. Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect, the FBI, and others.

He is one of the most knowledgeable American authorities on the subject and this book is important reading, because childhood and adolescence seem quite different today when compared with those of just 20 years ago. It is important to be knowledgeable of the trends in our society and help to make them good ones, or at least steer them in a positive direction.


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    • Elena. profile image

      Elena. 9 years ago from Madrid

      Hi Patty!  Very interesting topic!  I'll say, this is good advice, but not only for women, for men too, especially everything that relates to "politics", like networking or negotiation.

      In my experience, I have to say I found that the best advice for women in a competitive corporate landscape is never to use womanhood as an excuse NOR as an ally.  Again in my experience, what takes anyone up and far is being able to convey compentency as an individual, without their sex being relevant to the equation.  If you're a woman, then you're a woman, but when one lets that be a factor, and one allows and sometimes even facilitates (through dress, lack of assertiveness, the assistant syndrome...) being seen as a "woman professional" as opposed to a plain professional, then it's when being a woman starts being a "hardship".

      I can't help being a woman, but I can help playing the game as is expected of women :-)  Sometimes I've felt that other female colleagues refuse to play the game "like the game ought to be played" because somehow that would diminish their femaleness.  I just don't get that. One thing are principles and everyone's own integrity, I totally respect that, but another thing altogether is "not playing the game" and at the same time "expecting to be part of the starting team".  How would you achieve that if you're not scoring?

      Oh well, thanks for a VERY interesting read!