February 4, 2010

This article from the NY Times discusses some difficulties women face in the workplace. While the article mentions some female-specific aspects (like being treated like a secretary), the second half talks about skills anybody in the working world should have. And sadly, ones that college does not really prepare you with.

I’ve recently taken on a new role at work. Not only has my workload significantly increased, but I’m forced to deal with some new aspects of the work world (scary!). My primary role is mostly straight forward and somewhat algorithmic. So with this new responsibility, I finally understand how feedback can often feel more like a personal criticism than a suggestion. I’ve had to, multiple times now, remind myself that I do know what I’m talking about and the decisions I’m making are the right ones. And that if my priorities are fighting against hundreds of other priorities for resources, attention, and overall rank in the company. If I don’t speak up, everyone else will quickly take your place.

Beyond being able to handle tough feedback (which also has a lot to do with how it’s presented), I think people most struggle with the fact that in work you have to push to get what you want. The sentence sums it up, “By and large women believe that the workplace is a meritocracy, and it isn’t”. College was a place where if you did well and worked hard, it was mostly recognized automatically. And that doesn’t quite happen at work. Overall, those that actively seek to get ahead and move up – well, ultimately they will and fast. I finally realized that even in a company of a few thousand, I need to say “Hey look what I did; isn’t this great?” in order to get buy-in and recognition from the people at the top. Titles, salaries, promotions, responsibility – there’s nothing wrong with asking, right?

One comment

  1. Definitely!

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