Advice to women
March 23, 2021
This is Women’s History Month – it is definitely a time to celebrate the many achievements women have made, but the reality is that there is still so much more to do. As I have written recently, women have lost ground in the workplace due to COVID, women have made progress in deepening the cracks in the glass ceiling, yet we only hold 6.2% of the CEO positions in Fortune 500 companies. So, instead of writing about our achievements and our progress, I decided to offer advice to women, so we can close these gaps.
Believe in Yourself – I’ve written about imposter syndrome in the past and I am here to tell you that you need to let go of that, right now. You are not an imposter. You were hired for your current position because you had the skills and the knowledge to do the job. Your hiring manager hired you because they believe in you, so you need to believe in yourself.
Advocate for Yourself – for the most part, no one is going to advocate for you, if you don’t advocate for yourself. This means owning your achievements and talking about them, not boasting, but using them to promote yourself, to get a seat at the table, to take on a project, to ask for a raise, etc.
Learn from Your Mistakes – let’s face it, we all make mistakes, so just own them! There is another critical element, however, which is to also learn from our mistakes. Take the time to learn that new procedure, read up on a new trend, etc. Take a class if you need to and if that class costs money, then advocate for yourself to have the company pay for it.
Take Risks – I understand taking risks is scary because you could fail. Again, I am going to be real with you – you will often fail more often than you will succeed when you take risks, so the important element is to not view the challenges or disappointments as failures, but rather as learning opportunities. Taking risks can demonstrate to leadership that you can think outside the box, that you can be creative, agile, and curious – all of which are attractive when thinking about growing a business or finding new revenue lines or identifying new ways to support employees.
Support Your Peers – I am a big believer in helping others achieve their goals – it’s the idea of giving to receive. When you see your peers succeed and you know you have supported them, it is rewarding. And there may be a time you will need to lean on them for support, which is easier to do when you have been supportive. Support might come in the form of helping with a complex project or giving them a shout out to your manager, or even recommending them for an award, distinction, or even promotion. The more we support one another, the farther we all will go!
Find a Mentor and Be a Mentor – the mentor/mentee relationship can be incredibly valuable. The mentor can help you stay on track, introduce you to their contacts, serve as a sounding board. And as a mentor, you can help someone else grow and navigate their career path, but you also learn about yourself in the process.
Supporting women is not about pushing down men. Supporting women is about helping one another recognize our strengths, celebrating our successes, leaning on one another during challenges, and holding each other accountable. And by accountable, I mean the following: make sure we believe in ourselves, pushing each other to drop that feeling of being an imposter, etc., but I also mean calling one another out when we don’t support women, when we push another woman down or suppress their achievements. We have to ensure we are ALL elevating one another.
When we work together, that glass ceiling will have no chance of remaining intact.
Anne Converse Willkomm
Assistant Dean, Graduate College
Assistant Clinical Professor & Department Head, Goodwin College