Front Street

Thursday, March 12, 2009

By Gigi

To be sure, real progress must come through social policy changes to improve maternity leave and daycare, and to equalize women’s pay. But women can begin by talking about this with each other. The office environment is built around confrontation, and women must learn to engage in it with respect and full disclosure. Women should learn to fight their urge to share too much with female colleagues, a trait that can make them vulnerable. Emotional availability should be an asset, not a detriment, and competition can be healthy. Women can strike the balance between ambition and collaboration in part by discarding the old lie that competition is for men. Here are some tips if you feel that you’re at risk of being betrayed by a female colleague: you protect yourself hopefully without making enemies.

 As stated before, communication is key, deal with problems openly and directly

 Remember, being respected isn’t the same as being liked…you don’t have to be friends with other women on the job

 Keep the professional, professional: revealing too much can make you vulnerable. This isn’t high school and there’s no need to share every intimate detail of your private life with colleagues.

 Be sensitive to personality and value differences: before jumping to judge, put yourself in her shoes. Just because you’re both women doesn’t mean you think and act alike.

 Be generous with your time, your knowledge, and your resources: Teach the women who come under you how to handle conflict and to work together respectfully

 Stand up for yourself: be respectful, but be heard…no workplace I know offers a “Biggest Doormat” award