Why Women Succeeding In The Workplace Isn’t About Beating Men
I get asked a lot about what it’s like to be a woman working in sports.
In the last four years, there have been many times that I was the only woman in the room, whether it was a locker room filled with sweaty men or the media work room after a game.
And you know what? It doesn’t phase me. Not one bit.
Maybe it doesn’t phase me, because since I was 18, I’ve mostly been surrounded by men.
The undergraduate institution I went to was made up of only 23-percent women.
As such, many of my best friends are men.
I think the reason why it doesn’t bother me, though, is because my ability to do my job is not dependent upon my gender.
To me, the ability to work and succeed in sports–or anything, for that matter–isn’t about being male or female.
It’s about hard work. And determination. And skills. And smarts. And drive.
And how you treat people.
That last line, to me, is the most important. I can tell you, hands down, that many doors have opened for me solely because of how I treat people.
I think that’s important to note, because while so much of business is about competition, everything cannot be a competition.
I was at a women’s event awhile back. It was an event meant to highlight the successes and work of my peers in this industry. While I was proud of my colleagues, something left a bad taste in my mouth. Every woman who walked to the podium told a story of beating a man at something.
Let me tell you something, in my opinion, women getting ahead in the workforce isn’t about beating men.
Rather, it’s about finding ways and places to showcase what makes us different, unique and well-qualified for any job.
When one sets out with the sole intention of beating someone, they lose sight of what’s truly available to them. What’s available to anyone isn’t the opportunity to beat others, but the opportunity to become one’s best self, push one’s limits and reach one’s highest potential.
I do not believe that women have to let go of their femininity to get ahead in a sports-based career.
Rather, I believe that in many instances, femininity may be an advantage.
One of the strongest traits associated with femininity is empathy. Empathy is the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. In other words, empathy is the ability to connect.
What is the sports world driven by? Relationships. Connections.
Women need to start using this ability to get ahead. It’s time to cut the “us versus them” nonsense. The simplest way to disconnect from someone is to believe that you are setting out to beat them. Instead, women must understand that the only way we are going to push further in this industry is by working together. We need to connect.
With women. With men. Of all ages. Of all career levels. Everywhere.
I guess to some I lead a double existence.
I can talk sports with the best of them. Sports are my lifeblood.
Yet, sports are not my life.
I love talking on the phone with my girlfriends. I make a mean key lime pie. Decorating and antique stores make me happy. And shopping might be my downfall.
I remember birthdays. I come to parties with wine and flowers. I’m sensitive. Pink ranks in my top three favorite colors.
I want to be a wife someday. A good wife.
I want to be a mother someday. A good mother.
I want to have a job, too. And be good at it.
I’m a woman.
And because of that, I’m inherently feminine.
When I go to conferences attended by both genders, here’s what I don’t see: Men standing at podiums talking about beating women. In fact, if they did, it’d probably make national news and cause a big PR problem for someone.
Men don’t host breakout sessions at conferences focused upon how to become more feminine. Again, if they did, it’d probably make national news.
What are men doing at conferences? They are focusing upon improving traits and characteristics that are inherent to them. They are pushing forward to improve themselves. They are not hyper-focused on beating others. Rather, they drive forward building upon what lies within them and their connections. If they beat someone because of those two things, great.
I’m grateful for the women who blazed a trail ahead of me that allowed me an opportunity to work in sports. I don’t discredit what they went through or the difficulties they surmounted.
All I’m saying is this: Why don’t we focus on utilizing the traits inherent to women to get ahead?
Women should not have to act like men to get the jobs they want. We are built biologically and physiologically different for a reason. Each gender is given its own, unique set of gifts. That doesn’t mean that one gender is better meant for certain careers. Rather, it just means we have different traits to work with.
It’s time that we foster and support our female colleagues for who they are. It’s time that we embrace things like empathy and sensitivity for the positivity that they bring to the workplace. If women truly want equality in the workplace, we must demand that the workplace allows us to be our feminine selves.
Women getting to where they need to be on the corporate ladder isn’t about beating men.
It’s about being allowed and celebrated for who we are, as feminine as we want to be, in all levels of the working world.