America, we have a problem.
More specifically, we have a woman in authority problem. More specific than that, we have a woman looking as if she’s seeking authority problem.
I read an article the other day that stopped me in my tracks as it questioned the problem people generally had with strong women with ambition.
The article was talking about a certain political candidate, and rather than fling out the generic “if you’re against her then you must be sexist” rhetoric, it pulled together some extremely thought-provoking studies that took you down a very uncomfortably worn path.
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For example, it examined the study that says that men are more than four times as likely as women to ask their employer for more money. From purely anecdotal experiences, I’ve found that my female friends and colleagues are far less likely to make a counteroffer when offered a job.
On the other hand, many of my male friends and colleagues — when they bother even bringing the subject up to me at all because they don’t often agonize or seek advice over it — just plunge forward when it comes to asking for a sweeter pot.
And the reason men tend to feel more comfortable with a money grab is simply because they feel they can. Which leads to another study that shows that, generally speaking, women apply for positions only when they meet 100 percent of the posted qualifications, versus men who apply when they meet, on average, 60 percent of the posted qualifications.
Again, it’s another study that continues to reinforce my personal observations — reminding me of the large number of times when I’ve had to convince friends and co-workers (almost always female) to apply for the job or opportunity that they are immensely qualified for, just not perfectly qualified for.
In the workplace, how often do we subconsciously punish women because they want the job or want more from the job, such as a more deserving salary?
Study after study, article after article, book after book has detailed the confidence gap and the imposter syndrome that women suffer in the workplace. A similar wealth of statistics and other facts show that women generally get paid, on average, 78 cents to a man’s dollar (and less if you’re a black, Latino or Native American woman).
But when do we start asking tougher questions of ourselves? At what point in our society do we get past thinking that being “self confident” and “dominant” are masculine traits in the workplace that require a woman to know how to “temper” those traits to get ahead?
It’s not just women seeking those jobs who need to do all the introspection. It needs to be part of the organizational mindset to see whether that is why too many glass ceilings still exist.
Send questions to Michelle T. Johnson on Facebook at www.facebook.com/diversitydiva.