Top tips for… Being a graceful challenger

So, you are in a meeting. Your team are discussing the latest project update. What does our experience highlight happens in these meetings? Women wait for their turn to speak. In most meetings, however, that turn never comes. Men, on the contrary, are very comfortable with the process of jockeying for position and speaking their mind. Lets imagine you have taken the reigns, and have jumped in with your views; research shows that when a man and woman are speaking, he is likely to do 96 percent of the interrupting. More often than not, she lets him have the floor…

In a very male culture, men prove the worth of their ideas by dominating the floor. Note that if they give up easily, other men assume they’re uncommitted to their own proposals. Us women, we believe others deserve air time…. women have been acculturated to surrender rather than fight for their point of view.

So, you might want to consider the following:

  • Speaking loudly enough to be heard.
  • Rather than waiting for affirmation by whispering your idea to the person next to you, put it out directly and confidently.
  • Dealing with interruptions by….ignoring them: keep talking in the same tone, without making eye contact with the interrupter nor changing the speed or volume of your presentation. Consider not being too forceful, when doing this, as there is a danger of passing into the aggressive territory…

Try these in your next meeting; avoid being the odd-one-out and begin being the Graceful Challenger.

Special Accessories for Your Personal Development

The Athena Factor: Reversing the Brain Drain in Science, Engineering, and Technology; Sylvia Ann Hewlett, Carolyn Buck Luce, Lisa J. Servon, Laura Sherbin, Peggy Shiller, Eytan Sosnovich, Karen Sumberg

Forty-one percent of highly qualified scientists, engineers, and technologists on the lower rungs of corporate career ladders are female. But more than half (52%) drop out. Why? To better understand the scope and shape of female talent, the Athena Factor research project studied the career trajectories of women with SET credentials in the private sector. It found 5 powerful “antigens” in corporate cultures. Women in SET are marginalized by hostile macho cultures. Being the sole woman on a team or at a site can create isolation. Many women report mysterious career paths: fully 40% feel stalled. Systems of risk and reward in SET cultures can disadvantage women, who tend to be risk averse. Finally, SET jobs include extreme work pressures: they are unusually time
intensive. Moreover, female attrition rates spike 10 years into a career.

Women experience a perfect storm in their mid-to-late thirties: They hit serious career hurdles precisely when family pressures intensify. Companies that step in with targeted support before this “fight or flight moment” may be able to lower the female attrition rate significantly. This study features 13 company initiatives that address this female brain drain. Some, for example, are designed to break down female isolation; others create on-ramps for women who want to return to work. These initiatives are likely to be “game changers”: They will allow many more women to stay on track in SET careers.

We invite you to discover more information on this fascinating publication by visiting:

Article published with thanks to Aquitude

Aquitude is an organisational and personnel development consultancy with a passion – that companies must embrace and nurture gender and cultural diversity in order to attain competitive advantage. We bring out the best in your business and employees, leveraging innate strengths and qualities to achieve maximum performance. Want us to help you and your business?

Contact Aquitude on: [email protected].

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