If you are a man, you probably aren’t sure how best to treat and support the women at your office. Here are a few tips to help work with them better.
Whether you’re a man or woman, you’ve probably heard of Lean In. You can probably even name a female networking group or female career website. There’s no shortage of career support for women.
Still, however, the percentage of women at the top remains paltry.
What if it’s not that women need more advice — but rather the men?
That’s what Joanne Lipman thinks. And that’s why she wrote an essay for the Wall Street Journal entitled Women at Work: A Guide for Men.
Lipman says male managers “are often clueless about the myriad ways in which they misread women in the workplace every day. Not intentionally. But wow. They misunderstand us, they unwittingly belittle us, they do something that they think is nice that instead just makes us mad. And those are the good ones.”
In the article, she explores “what frustrates and perplexes professional men about the women they work with.” Lipman then offers solutions, which are based on interviews with male executives who are “getting it right,” as well as her 20+ years of experience in a male-dominated workforce.
How to treat women at work
From the article, here are our favorite pieces of advice:
1. She’s not “sorry,” she’s not “lucky” — and she’s not asking you a question.
Men are often confused by female patterns of speech, which include “qualifiers (“I’m not sure, but…”)” as well as “apologies (“I’m sorry to interrupt, but…”)” and downplaying their accomplishments (“I’m lucky”). But Lipman is quick to point out: “She’s not sorry or lucky. She just has a different way of giving direction.”
Men can ameliorate this issue by deliberately involving women in their conversations, using tactics like asking for their opinions or encouraging a woman to elaborate on her point or question.
2. She deserves a raise.
We’ll let the stats do the talking here: according to the article, “Men are four times more likely than women to ask for a raise.” So remember: Just because a woman doesn’t ask for a raise doesn’t mean she doesn’t want or deserve one.
3. Don’t be afraid of tears.
Some male executives don’t want to give women critical feedback for fear the woman will feel bad — or worse, cry. Some may even “let women run astray and off course and be fired before they’ll take the chance to give them feedback.” Instead, she suggests that men be honest and direct with female co-workers and employees; you’re not doing women any favors by going easy on them.
Do you think this advice is helpful? Do you think men need more help figuring out women at work?
Susan Shain (@TravlJunkette) is a travel blogger who loves helping people discover adventure through international travel or alternative careers.