Marginalised to Empowered - What Do You Represent?
Ria Jackson, Guest Editor, Ruddy Nice
In a world where diverse voices are finally beginning to be recognised and even celebrated, the importance of representation cannot be overstated.
Women, in particular, have historically been under represented in various fields and industries. However, the tide is turning as more women are breaking barriers and shattering glass ceilings.
This should be beyond powerful for not only our generation but for that of the future, however at present it’s not.
This is because women still aren’t visible enough.
“Visibility is more important than Ability”, quoted from the book“ The Brand Called You” by Peter Montoya.
People believe what they see, so women must be visible to be able to represent.
No doubt, there is a strong set of gender biases, societal constraints and cultural ‘norms’ underlying women’s lack of visibility and underrepresentation.
However, to be wholeheartedly honest; some of these are actually our own!
For example-Research conducted by Christine L. Exley and Judd B. Kessler (Harvard and Wharton Universities),found that despite positive strides being taken, gender differences in representation and pay are still significant and prevalent. Particularly within male dominated fields such as science, technology, engineering, and math. Evidence surprisingly shows that this has is attributed to a significant gender gap in self-promotion.
Findings highlighted that men rate their own performance 33% higher than equally or better performing women.
Why does this matter?
The research found that self-promotion works! Those that participated in the act of self-promotion within the work environment were generally, more likely to be hired or promoted by employers AND more likely to be offered and receive a higher rate of pay. Therefore, these findings feed into the issue of the gender pay gap, suggesting that 33%of men are more likely to receive a higher rate of pay purely because they are better at selling themselves.
According to a Hewlett Packard study, men will apply for a job when they meet only 60% of the qualifications but women apply only if they meet 100% of them.
Let’s be honest, meeting 100% of the outlined skills and qualifications in any job specification would be a highly unlikely scenario unless the job was specifically designed for you. Therefore, women are automatically disqualifying themselves from almost every job opportunity!
In this study the main reason given by women to not apply for a job is they’re concerned that they’d be wasting their time if they’re not fully qualified for the role.
Have you? (Be honest!)
Further research needs to be conducted to establish evidenced based reasons for why women vastly under value or under sell themselves. However, it has been suggested that this could be associated with:
- Confidence: Or lack thereof.
- Our own unconscious biases and embedded gender perceptions.
- The "double bind" bias: This is the conflict between the expected behaviours from women and the expected behaviours of a leader. Women are traditionally expected to be caring, warm, emotional, sensitive, and soon. Leaders are expected to be assertive, rational, competent, and objective.
Example: Women get penalised if they show emotion at work. According to research and articles written by Dr Pragya Agarwal a behavioural and data scientist, and founder of research think-tank 'The 50 Percent Project' that examines gender and racial inequities-If a woman was to assert her authority, she is likely to be labelled ‘difficult’, if a woman was to show anger in the workplace they can be labelled as ‘hysterical’, ‘unreasonable’ or even ‘unstable’. Whereas a male counterpart wouldn’t be questioned if they asserted their authority, they would be considered a ‘strong leader’ and if they were to show anger it is more accepted, and they are likely to be deemed ‘passionate’.
Veterans, that are women, are often considered to be androgynous due to the traits we can inherit or establish in service whilst working in male dominated environments. We are taught in service to be assertive, proactive, driven, and ambitious. Characteristics needed to survive in certain situations such as hostile environments.
In civilian life these characteristics can be considered to be masculine traits hence why we are referred to as ‘androgynous’ and therefore often perceived as ‘bossy’, ‘intimidating’, ‘aggressive’ or even ‘bitchy’.
Of course, cultural norms of gender specific role definitions and ideals may play a part in the structural make up of our behaviours and unconscious beliefs/biases, thus contributing to some of the gender conditioning described within the studies quoted–Clearly sexism is not exclusive to men; it is embedded and internalised within women too.
However, drum roll please, crazy idea on its way; If we owned our own issues, stopped hiding behind culturally defined roles and held ourselves to account then essentially, we could reduce the gender issues such as the pay gap described within the study conducted by Christine L. Exley and Judd B. Kessler, referencing the likelihood to be hired and promoted. Therefore, also reducing the gender gap in leadership roles by up to 33% (being rudimental here). All by working on ourselves!
Whilst suggesting that all societal problems should fall on the shoulders of women to correct, it might be worth discussing if there is a part that women can play in the resolution to issues that affect them. Such as career progression, life goals, family priorities, pay, future, and the future generations of women to come. Surely then, there is a moral obligation to do so.
As much as we need allies, there is no one better to represent women, than women!
Do you agree?
Plus, if the minority don’t stand up, then the majority won’t join them.
Women are minority, right?
The true facts are-WOMEN ARE NOT A MINORITY!
As a collective women make up 50% of the overall population.
In a world that often views women as a marginalised group, it is essential to challenge the notion that women are a minority. Despite constituting half of the global population, women have been historically underrepresented and undervalued in various spheres.
Women's underrepresentation in certain arenas is often misconstrued as evidence of their minority status. However, this underrepresentation is not a reflection of their abilities or potential. It is a result of systemic biases and barriers, some of which described above, that need to be dismantled.
Starting with our own!
Coining The Minority Mindset - Another example of internalised gender bias.
Do you have a minority mindset?
A case study:
A Service Person and engineer. Blaming situations and circumstance on the fact that they are a woman, and accepting them. Rendering them unconsciously complicit. However, by working on their own mindset over the last few years and refusing to accept limited visibility, socially embedded constraints and by actively pursuing opportunities, they now know that all women, themselves included, can shatter glass ceilings, and assert their rightful place in every sphere of life.
Representation truly matters, as evidenced by a number of different and powerful movements such as the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement and #MeToo movement.
So, it’s time to start our own movement and dispel the perception of women as a minority, represent and recognise the collective power women possess to effect change.
We can lead the charge simply by looking within.
Find out next month!
Exley, C. and Kessler, J. (2019) Why don’t women self-promote as much as men?, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2019/12/why-dont-women-self-promote-as-much-as-men (Accessed: 14 August 2023).
Agarwal, Dr.P. (2022) Not very likeable: Here is how bias is affecting women leaders, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pragyaagarwaleurope/2018/10/23/not-very-likeable-here-is-how-bias-is-affecting-women-leaders/?sh=7d9145a9295f (Accessed: 14 August 2023).
Agarwal, Dr.P. (2021) Here is how unconscious bias holds women back, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/pragyaagarwaleurope/2018/12/17/here-is-how-unconscious-bias-holds-women-back/?sh=536570192d4f (Accessed: 14 August 2023).
Pikus, K. (2012) Identifying gender bias in college culture: Descriptive and prescriptive stereotypes, hostile and benevolent sexism, and cognitive justification, Scholarly Commons at Miami University. Available at: https://sc.lib.miamioh.edu/handle/2374.MDLC/12090 (Accessed: 14 August 2023).
Exley, C. and Kessler, J. (2019) The gender gap in self-promotion, NBER Working Paper Series. Available at: https://www.nber.org/system/files/working_papers/w26345/revisions/w26345.rev2.pdf?trk=public_post-text (Accessed: 14 August 2023).
Cant, E. (2022) Gender emotional double-standards: The double-bind bias and the impact on women’s career progression, HRZone. Available at: https://www.hrzone.com/perform/people/gender-emotional-double-standards-the-double-bind-bias-and-the-impact-on-womens (Accessed: 14 August 2023).
Mohr, T.S. (2021) Why women don’t apply for jobs unless they’re 100% qualified, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/2014/08/why-women-dont-apply-for-jobs-unless-theyre-100-qualified#:~:text=You’ve%20probably%20heard%20the,Code%20and%20dozens%20of%20articles (Accessed: 14 August 2023).
Hannon, K. (2014) Are women too timid when they job search?, Forbes. Available at: https://www.forbes.com/sites/nextavenue/2014/09/11/are-women-too-timid-when-they-job-search/?sh=6afdacd7411d (Accessed: 14 August 2023).
Mohr, T.S. (2023) Why women struggle with self-promotion | Goop, goop. Available at: https://goop.com/wellness/career-money/why-women-struggle-with-self-promotion/ (Accessed: 14 August 2023).