In business school and in the workplace, women may face unique challenges and, therefore, must find unique ways to overcome those challenges. While each woman’s experience is different, preparing for certain situations and knowing how to handle them can help women succeed academically and professionally. Check out these business world success tips for women:
Putting forth an assertive, self-confident demeanor can help professionals get ahead in the business world, but not always. According to a 2011 study by Stanford’s Graduate School of Business, the women who are the most successful are the ones who can act like chameleons in the workplace, adapting their behavior to different social situations. Women who know when to be dominant, confident and aggressive as well as when to scale it back earn more promotions than both men and their female counterparts.
It’s important to keep in mind that being adaptable does not mean silencing themselves in the conference room. All professionals, including women, should feel comfortable to speak up and share their thoughts when they have an idea or contribution. They key is knowing how to communicate effectively. Offering constructive criticism shows stronger teamwork than shutting down colleagues, being open to questions and comments on your ideas demonstrates dynamic and pragmatic thinking.
Putting in the extra effort to talk to professors after lectures or during office hours can give business students an edge. When five students raise their hand to answer a question, the professor may be more inclined to call on the student who has previously earned facetime. This can be especially beneficial for female students, who may be facing bias in the classroom.
An important aspect of business school is networking with peers who can become job connections or business partners in the future. For female students in particular, creating a support group with women who are going through similar challenges and successes in business school can be extremely valuable and can lead to future opportunities.
Whether in school or in the workforce, women in business can expand their educations, careers and networks by joining professional or student groups. These groups often provide strong support groups and career connections, and women-specific groups often work to further equality for females in the workplace.
Many businesswomen deal with the challenge of balancing work with family obligations. Women are often seen as the primary caregivers in a family, and choosing to pursue a career in business can come with emotional, financial or time-related stress. Female business students and professionals can prepare for this by seeking out resources, like babysitters, daycare services on campus or near the workplace, or family support and taking advantage of them if necessary.
That said, finding a balance between work, family and personal time can help keep businesswomen satisfied with their careers and home lives. Studies from UC Berkeley have shown that a positive home experience can lead to a positive work experience, and vice versa. Further, the process is cyclical, so by fostering a happy home life, women are more likely to have a more satisfying professional life.
At its current rate of change, the gender gap is not likely to reach equity in the near future; however, women who conduct themselves in the workplace as though they are equal to their male counterparts may have a better shot at reaching their goals and gaining equality. If equality is assumed, women can continue striving for excellence, standing up for their ideas, and negotiating raises and promotions with mitigated concern for gender bias.
Whether it’s someone who can act as a sounding board for new business ideas or someone who can relate to the challenges of the modern businesswoman, finding a fellow professional who has experience and advice can help women grow in the workplace, gain skills and insights and build community.
From a young age, men are taught to bring a competitive attitude to various situations throughout their lives. Since business is a competitive field, men often fall more easily into its sport-like nature than women. Women who can be competitive in business school and in the workplace may have a better time gaining respect from coworkers and succeeding in business.