Common Pitfalls At Work and How to Avoid Them

It’s no secret that the professional world necessitates challenging dated, gender-based misconceptions regarding women in the workforce. The wage gap, glass ceilings, and dissonance between professionalism and motherhood are common topics in today’s society for a reason. Until we solve these issues, let’s help each other out and avoid these common pitfalls of the modern businesswoman.

Viewing Other Professional Women as Competition

Friendly competition between female employees is healthy, but a toxic it’s-me-or-her mindset is harmful. The promotion or advancement of a female co-worker should be celebrated as success and not taken as a personal slight.

It’s a societal norm to judge a woman’s success in terms of whether or not it was “deserved” in the eyes of others. With such scrutiny already present in many workplaces, it’s essential that you don’t view the professional women around you as competition, but rather as inspiration, motivation, and support to rely on as you ascend the corporate ladder.

Lack of Assertiveness

Men are rarely accused of holding back when it comes to their professional desires. Statistically, men are more likely to ask for a raise when they feel they deserve it, more likely to speak up in a crowded conference room, and are more likely to stand their ground when they believe they are right.

Many women prefer to rely on their professional performance to speak for itself. This lack of assertiveness is common for businesswomen and it can be detrimental to the upward trajectory of their success.

In the most basic terms, women should speak up for what they feel they have worked hard for. If history has taught us anything, it’s that staying silent will not result in change. Talk to your boss about a raise. Speak up in meetings. Don’t submit to pressure when you’re confident in an idea. While there’s a line between being assertive versus egotistical, there is nothing wrong with demanding the respect you deserve.

Struggling with the Capability/Productivity Gap

Most confident women won’t shy away from letting you know what they are capable of. However, in the workplace, there can be a disparity between a person’s capabilities and their productivity.

While the problem isn’t unique to women specifically, it is one that can potentially be more detrimental to women than men, depending upon the organizational scrutiny a woman is under.

Arriving at work everyday should mean that physically, mentally and emotionally, you’re ready to take on your workload. You certainly don’t want to work to the point of burnout, but you know what you’re capable of, so make sure your level of productivity speaks to your capabilities.

Allowing Emotion to Dictate Your Attitude Towards Work

Last, but not least, it’s a common trope from men that women can be too emotional for *insert any level of leadership achievement here.* To very clearly negate such sexist commentary: emotion is a normal, human experience that is not specific to women, and therefore emotions in no way, shape, or form should prevent women from successfully performing in any given role.

We are not just women working in a man’s world, regardless of the professional rhetoric that still is around the modern businesswoman in many places in the world. As we seek to continue altering the perception of female professionals in society as a whole, avoiding the above pitfalls will only serve to benefit us in that pursuit.


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