Gender equality in the professional arena has come a long way in the 21st century. But while great strides have been made over the last two decades, women still face challenges unique to females as they look to establish themselves professionally and advance their careers.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, women still earn roughly 80 percent of what men are paid in the same positions. Professional women often must walk the thin line between being too nice or too aggressive, a pressure not often faced by men. Assertiveness is an art for both genders, and women can take steps to be more assertive without giving the impression they’re ruffling feathers.
• Be confident in your speech. It is easy to fall into “weaker language” habits when advocating for an idea. If unsure about the reaction to a proposal, you might say, “I think this is a good idea” or “I believe this will impart change.” More assertive language is to simply stand behind the point: “This is a good idea.” Confidence can go a long way.
• Allow people to disagree. It is acceptable for others to disagree with you. This can lead to discussion and an opportunity to present evidence why something should be done in a certain way. It also enables you to point out the strong points in their argument. Listening to all ideas can sway people in your favour, even if they don’t necessarily agree with all you believe in.
• Be proactive and future-oriented. This is especially pertinent when asking for raises or promotions. Explain to a boss how you respect yourself and that your work merits the right compensation. Point out clearly defined future goals and successes you’ve had that warrant consideration for higher pay.
• Don’t fear conflict. Conflict doesn’t have to be confrontational, especially when respectable language is used and everyone is allowed to voice their opinions. Conflict can inspire great change. And remember, while you need to have solid relationships with coworkers, they do not have to be your best friends.
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