Women and Careers Tip 11

Why Can’t a Woman be More Like a Man?

Well, because she’s a woman! Men and women ARE different, for whatever reasons. And until what women bring to the workplace is equally valued along with male attributes, we’ll always be a pace behind, trying to fit into a male oriented workplace.

An issue that crops up time and time again when I’m coaching senior women is ‘how can I be true to myself yet still progress?’ My response is often to reverse the same question:

How can you progress without being true to yourself?

That way madness lies. So don’t try and behave like a man, dress in pinstripes, wear ties (shades of the 80s for those old enough to remember!) if that is not comfortable for you. Relish and be proud of your feminity.


If you are in a very traditional organisation where male attitudes dominate (however subliminal) you have some choices to make:

1)You can challenge the staus quo, using whatever means are comfortable and appropriate for you and your circumstances.

2) You can try and moderate your behaviour to the cultural norms and not rock the boat, i.e. behave like a man to get on, although as you aren’t actually a man, you may never cut the mustard.

3)You can plan to leave and go somewhere you can flourish!

If we women don’t promote feminine values in the workplace, who will?


Posted on January 12th, 2010 by

10 Responses to “Women and Careers Tip 11”

  1. I think that only women who are unsure of their worth try to compete with men by dressing, behaving and looking like them. Beauty and femininity don’t equal worthlessness. I’ve never had any respect for women who do this. They make us all look inept. Leave masculinity to the men and let’s get on with life being ourselves. You’re right, we’re different. This is a cause for celebration. I don’t want to share my life with another woman. I like the manliness edge my husband brings to our relationship

    • Jane says:

      Sometimes it’s hard to resist the peer pressure. I used to work within an organisation in London where male values really dominated; it was like stepping back in time. They didn’t require women to look like men but they did (still do) expect them to behave like them in senior positions. The entire senior management is made up of men, white men, who have all been in the organisation for decades. I first became involved with them when I was coaching their sole senior woman who eventually moved on; it was too exhausting to be fighting the constant covert discrimination as well as deliver to a high standard.
      However, she is now in a much senior position!

  2. Don’t you find women can be scary too?

    • Jane says:

      Oh yes, of course. Although it’s not a course of action I recommend! Although there’s always a time and place…..
      Thanks for stopping by the blog!

  3. Wendy Jacob says:

    I think you’re right that it’s important to remember you have options. Some people are up for challenging the status quo and others aren’t – that’s fine; we’re all different. I do think it’s important to try and step back and not get overly precious about it though. If that’s the way it is, then that’s the way it is. You have your options!

  4. From personal experience I never tried to be anyone I wasn’t and I’m too old to change now LOL.
    I have found that people have accepted me (and my faults) because they “got what they saw”. Not everyone likes that about me, but no matter who you are, or who you TRY to be, someone will not like it. Be yourself always. Let someone else have a problem with that!

  5. Lisa Scales says:

    I work in technology which has always been awash with men. I do, however, think women bring something very different to the table and both my business partners (who are men) realise this – I am in a fortunate position that they recognise that sometimes empathy and a woman’s thought process sometimes wins over the bravado and gung ho traits men tend to display (it goes back to hunter gatherer stuff!)and I can effect change with clients in a different way to them. Its a good mix and I think business needs that variety. Women can succeed by being totally true to who they are as long as they set out who they are when they start a new position and not try and morph into their peer group – you can’t sustain an act for very long and people see through you and in turn it breeds mistrust. Honesty is always the best policy.

    • Jane says:

      Many thanks for all your comments, Jayne, Wendy & Lisa. Clearly three very inspirational women who are true to yourselves!

  6. Vicki Day says:

    My top career tip is that you need support from either close friends or family – it’s emotional support which carries you through when the going gets tough.
    Plus never ever listen to negative voices either from “well meaning friends / or the voice in your head” – be positive as this is what drives people forward – if your positive it’s infectious …..
    Plus don’t try and be a “man” – women have more devices/ tricks up their sleeves which win the day or smooth the deal

    • Jane says:

      And as someone who has had a phenomenally successful career herself, you know what you’re talking about! Thanks for the comment.

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