Friday, October 16, 2015

Does it take being "Mean" to get ahead?

Today, I read an interesting blog by my friend Amy Katz of Channel E2E From Entrepreneur to Exit "Mind if I B*tch a Bit"  (click here to read

Firstly, as Vice-Chair of CompTIA's Advancing Women in IT Community, I am very happy to hear your feed back about our community and posts.  We absolutely try to bridge the gap and create an equal playing field and opportunities for men and women alike.

Thank you for bringing up a very Interesting perspective which is often discussed within our communities and members.  Let me begin by saying, of course women tend to be outnumbered in the IT field (significantly), in fact in the last 10 years women entering a career in IT has not only plateaued, but declined.  We hope to change that through mentorship, advocacy, and conversations such as this.

Sheryl Sandberg discussed a similar topic in her book "Lean In" whereby women who act a certain way are perceived as "mean" or b*tchy, while a man who perceives in the precise same way is celebrated for his leadership.  Is it in fact the women that is being "mean" or just the perception of a strong authority that is misunderstood.

Personally, some of my best mentors have been senior women in leadership.  Why?  They get it.  They recognize my efforts, hard work and support me - not because I am a woman, but in spite of it.  It is absolutely necessary to have champions who can mentor and guide you throughout your professional career (no matter the stage or experience, we can always afford to learn something new).

Were the women you aforementioned directly told those quotes, or was it their perception?  Let's examine some options- what if a man and woman leader felt the same way about promoting the individual- but she voiced her opinion and he did not. Is this now considered constructive criticism?  Or perhaps it would have been more helpful to provide clear actionable items on how she might improve her perception to get ahead.  Or, maybe it would be best to say you disagree and would love the opportunity to prove you don't have to be mean to be talented, determined, and successful... or maybe it's time for a skip level.

It is my honest opinion that the more women support each other, the better it will be to share perspective, insight, experiences, and support.  However, as men are typically the majority it is equally important they too take an active role to understand that regardless if you are a man, or a woman, you can be successful with the right encouragement and opportunities.  It is not too often I hear of a man being promoted because he is kind, or a woman being looked over because she is too nice, or not mean enough.  These stereotypes (real or imagined) are the very road blocks which inhibit the success of individuals and the overall organizations.

Regardless of your chromosomes we all potentially can be great contributors.  There is an absolute proven statistical benefit to having diversity in the work place, and unique ideas to help the company grow and become successful- as well as target an audience who is also diverse.  It is the hope that some day we will not be judged by our gender, but by the person we are, the history we have built our success  on, and the opportunity for the future of what we can contribute.  It is the hope that managers can look past these things and encourage you to be your best, and support you on your journey by being fair and kind wouldn't hurt :).

I would love to know your thoughts and perspectives- please share them here...

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