As you are beginning a career in business you will face many challenges as a woman. The best advice I can give you going forward in your career is to network, find mentorship, and demonstrate leadership roles effectively. It is evident that as women we are taken for granted in the business world and for that reason you need to work hard and demonstrate confidence. We live in a white cis-male dominated world where we are seen as incapable of successfully completing the same tasks or doing the same jobs as men. Women often think differently than men most times, due to their different mental map, and because of this they are beneficial assets to a company yet they still are not treated as such. I want to see more women in leading roles such as CEOs rather than majority in Human Resource positions. In order for that to happen you need to understand the factual component of women in the business world. If you follow this advice, you will be able to leave your mark and become a successful woman in the business realm.
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You may not think that my advice is necessary or will be of use to you, but after hearing the problems that women are facing in this male dominated business world you will truly understand and appreciate the importance of my advice. I would first like to call to your attention a recurring problem in the business world which is the gender wage gap. Women of all races who are over the age of 24 and work full-time earned an average of around 70% of what white males earned in 2008 which slightly higher than the 67% in 1990 and much higher than 58% observed in 1970 and 1980. Although this statistic is increasing, it is still not equal. Firms believe that women can not have children and a career so many times they are not getting promotions and as a result only about seven percent of women are CEOs. In addition to this, it has been proven that within the same occupation women earn less than men. This needs to come to an end and by listening to this advice it will give you a leg up in starting your career.
A way to receive a promotion within a firm is to have your skills noticed, and a good way to do that is through networking. Networking can take you a long way and nowadays it is not so much what you know, but rather who you know. Although having the ability to do the work effectively is important, being able to market yourself is also crucial. Networking can provide effective information to flow through to important people. When you prove your ability to the right people you are most likely going to be referred for a raise or a promotion through networking. Networking allows you to be exposed to numerous opportunities. If someone likes the way you portray your brand they will want to add you on projects. As I mentioned before, we are oftentimes left behind in the dust due to male dominance and this is a great way to get a leg up. Now remember ladies, it is not what you know it is who you know.
Once you network and find someone you trust to help you and someone who wants to see you grow, you should find a mentor. A mentor should be someone who is familiar with the firm and can help you gain more connections. This person should be able to self reflect and bestow upon you wisdom from their own experiences and help you navigate through the firm. This person can be either male or female, but make sure it is someone you can trust and someone who can be honest with you. You will make mistakes because you are human, but you need someone who can guide you through those times and advise you on what to do when you make those mistakes. Remember I said that this is a white cis-male dominated field and as such they will try and overpower you or speak over you. If you are in the position where you can not handle or you do not know what to do in that situation, then that is an opportunity to talk to your mentor for guidance. Your mentor should be someone you go to with anything and someone who can help you grow.
In order to prove yourself you also need to take on leadership roles, to prove that you are capable of handling any task. Take on big tasks if you are able to handle them and excel in it. The key is the performance review since that is how the company will make promotion decisions. If you can perform well with your normal tasks, you have the ability to go above and beyond and take on more difficult tasks to make you stand out. Utilize your voice and have people know that you are not docile and people can not walk all over you. In order to be a leader you need to demonstrate good delegating skills and creativity. Be able to initiate projects and think of strategies to benefit the company or help them save money.
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If you find this advice helpful, I suggest “playing the game” in order to survive this sad reality us women are living in. You need to have the confidence to take more risks early on, reach out for help, seek mentorship, and ask for the big projects and prove yourself as capable. The world is changing slowly, but we still have a long way to go and because of this you still need to fight and work hard in order to be a valuable asset to the firm.
Reeves, Martha E. Women in Business: Theory, Case Studies, and Legal Challenges. New York, N.Y. : London: Routledge, 2010. Print.