Does the glass ceiling truly exist, and how do you overcome it? If you have asked yourself this question, you are not alone! With my time off from working after being laid off, I have been able to review how I handled misogyny in the C suite world. Here are my findings and suggestions for other women.
Can a Woman Be a Techy?
In my experience in the technical world , being a woman is often not an advantage. I cannot count how many time I have been in a meeting or call (often with all men) regarding intense technical discussions, and the vendor or analyst or even operational leader will turn to my male counterpart to get a technical answer. Just because he is a man with a classic “nerdy genius” look, they assume he has the IQ to solve the problem.
The majority of women in technical positions (78%) report that they feel they have to work harder than their male coworkers to prove their worth.cio.com
It reminds me of our High IQ Team tryouts in high school. The female calculus teacher called out questions and selected who should answer based on having their hand up. I shot my hand up early and often first every time, but was never called upon, even thought I knew the answer. At the end of the day, the whole team was male! Satisfyingly, they lost every contest, while I won multiple scholarships for the highest SAT score and being valedictorian. (You can tell I am bitter though…)
Things haven’t changed. Even when I applied for a recent demanding job role, I was told that the search team found me very appealing as a collaborative leader, but they wanted someone with more technical skills.
At prior jobs, I have reported well-documented examples of men talking down to other women at work- “mansplaining”, interrupting, calling them “girls”, and even asking them to do classic female jobs like snacks and coffee.
A Stanford study showed that on average, female speakers are interrupted 12% more than men.visualeyed.com
I always make a separate call to the female involved to let her know what was wrong with the interaction and that I reported it to leadership. Unfortunately, reporting was often made to another male leader. The behavior would often abate for a while and then recur. I can pinpoint four of these misogynist executives that I reported who are still with the organization, and all of them are successfully climbing the corporate ladder.
Answer is More Female Leaders
Career site, Zippia, reports that women account for only 18% of the CIO and CTO roles in 1,000 of the largest U.S. tech companies.techtarget.com
The only way to end bad behavior and overcome stereotypes is to address it head-on. I will continue to report these misogynous behaviors and offer support to the female victims. I have found a possible great new job that fits me, and one of the selling points was the female executive I interviewed with, who I will ultimately report to. We women have to not bury our heads in the sand but work together to support each other on our career journeys. Best of luck to you all!