Various studies on diversity, equality and inclusion (DEI) have shown that women shy away from speaking about their own achievements.
A 2019 research paper ‘The gender gap in self-promotion’ authored by Christine L. Exley and Judd B. Kessler, found that ‘women subjectively describe their ability and performance to potential employers less favorably than equally performing men’. In short, women are terrible when it comes to showcasing and speaking about their own success or the value that they bring to the table. They are often harsh on themselves and even unkind. The gender gap in self-promotion is alarming. According to the authors, men rate their performance 33% higher than equally performing women. Studies also show that even men frown upon women who promote themselves! Clearly, there is a lot of self-work that women need to embark upon.
Why self-promotion matters
Self-promotion improves the chance of being hired, getting a promotion or a raise, being acknowledged and moving up the ladder. With women lagging in self-promotion, it is little wonder that there are very few of them at the top. This lack of inclusion can cascade into discrimination of women already hired and can subsequently lead to them leaving the organisation because of cultural issues.
Having less women at the top also impacts an organisation’s performance that has a direct impact on its financial returns. Companies that have women board directors report nearly 53% greater performance in comparison to companies without women board directors. Also, companies having an ethnic diverse workforce are known to report 35% greater financial returns!
How can women self-promote themselves?
It is not easy to challenge self-perceptions around self-promotion. The beauty of perceptions however is, that they can be changed! Perceptions are not really the truth and are often an illusion created in our minds due to our own biases and previous experiences.
Here are some things that women can do to change their own perception and work on not feeling awkward/unconfident/shy of their own achievements.
Consciously allocate a dedicated #metime wherein you can go through your successes and achievements on a daily basis. You need to be in charge here and be accountable to your own self.
- Be kind to yourself
It is easier for women to be kind towards others. It is also easy for them to praise others. However, when it comes to articulating their own accomplishments, they usually tend to underplay their victories and can even be harsh on themselves. Cultural norms and societal pressures play a role here. Hence, it is super critical that organisations drive a culture that recognises and acknowledges the wins of women.
- Work on breaking the stereotype
Remember the earlier stereotype images of women that showed them regaled to the background and mainly playing the role of a nurturer or housekeeper? When women started working, they broke that stereotype but unfortunately carried with them images of what it meant to be a woman. The feminine traits of being a nurturer, humble and collaborative has over time became a sword dangling over women’s head. Organisations/Men expect women to display the above and not show assertiveness or be firm about their growth and promotion. Which is why, women will need to break the stereotyping and create new pathways for themselves.
- Track your achievements
Allocate a dedicated time to update your achievements list. We accomplish so many things on a day-to-day basis that it is very easy to lose sight of them. Make it a habit to journal your accomplishments regularly, however small they may be.
- Network and advocacy
Women need to network more and do this beyond their normal circle of peers and friends. Form a network of advocates wherein you can share your accomplishments on a weekly basis. This is where your track sheet can help you.
Remember, it is not bragging when you the achievements that you showcase are backed with evidence and facts.
Achievements do not have a voice of its own – we need to lend our voice and own our success stories.
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