When being a woman in a male dominated workplace, there are certain problems you might encounter. Besides being a minority, many women report on not being heard – or even taken seriously – when surrounded by men in the workplace. Below follows a discussion on the value of a feminine voice in the workplace – high pitched or not.
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Compromising Our Identity?
Many women have accepted the Iron Lady Effect. The Iron Lady, also known as Margaret Thatcher, had a certain way of dressing and a certain way of talking that proved her worthy of the title as a “strong woman,” an iron lady. In order to be taken seriously and being heard, many women are emulating these traits as well. Is lowering our voices and dressing ourselves in suits really making us appear more authoritative and in-charge or is it rather a compromise to our feminine identity?
A Greater Tolerance For Risks
Forbes presents us with the fact that many women are dropping out of mainstream careers. They specifically call it a “female brain drain,” and point out that much is lost when women decide to stay out of the workplace. Firstly, women tend to leave and re-enter the workforce. When reentering, they bring with them a diverse set of skills that the employees who stayed at one place for several years are lacking. This also indicates that women have a greater tolerance for risks, something that is highly sought after.
The Female Way of Working
When thinking about women in the workplace, many stereotypes will immediately come to mind. Groups chatting together, discussing problems and listening to one another. This type of behavior, which does not apply to everyone, is just the kind of behaviour that a successful company needs. Women work well in groups and are usually better listeners than men – they multitask easily and are in general more collaborative. A business run by a dedicated and intertwined team is more beneficial and productive than a business run by a single, loud voice.
The Empathic Woman
Women are known as great carers. We react instinctively to the sound of a crying child and possess, in general, a high emotional intelligence. These skills are vital since we for most of the human history have been raising and caring for children. Today, we are moving further away from our home and the domestic responsibilities of men are slowly increasing – so we take the skills evolution provided us with and put it to work.
The ability to understand and connect with others, recognising emotions and relating to them is crucial in many areas of a business. Developing a business strategy design and service design requires an ability to listen and observe. The female voice in the workplace is often an empathic voice – without it, we will not be able to solve conflicts and understand the audience that we are trying to target.
The Intuitive Women
It is important to keep in mind that this is purely statistics – we are not trying to fire up a gender debate. Some argue that there are no substantive differences between men and women in the workplace; some people are simply more intuitive and more caring while others are not. Yet, a survey from 2012 carried out by RSA in the UK have shown that “women bring more intuition to leadership.” Women were rated higher than men for intuition and a greater awareness of the motivations of others.
The greatest news of them all goes beyond the normal gender stereotypes of women being more nurturing than men; according to the data of a global survey by Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman in 2011, women scored higher than men in all of the cases. At every level, the women were rated higher as better leaders than their male counterparts.
Many businesses are starting to realise the infinite loss of not having women in the workplace. They are developing more flexible schedules and the opportunity to telework in order to stay employed while also being able to stay at home.
The next time you find yourself drowned by a male voice in a meeting, simply repeat yourself until you are being heard. We do need to lower our voices or seem more masculine in order to fit in at work – the feminine voice should be valued.
Written by Marte Klusen