News You Can Use: Fighting the Battle of Sexes When It Comes to Self-Promotion

In the “Workstation” column of The New York Times‘ Business section this past Sunday, Phyllis Korkki notes that “women need to prove themselves multiple times” in order to move ahead in the workplace, whereas men have much more latitude.

According to experts interviewed for the piece, we are still living in a world where being aggressive is a compliment when referring to a man and an insult when it describes his female counterpart. Executive coach Peggy Klaus adds that women spend more time praising others’ contributions than their own because self-promotion makes them uncomfortable.

In fact, at a recent workshop we taught at the Working Mother Multicultural Women’s Conference on how to be your own best publicist, some of these issues arose, particularly with women who grew up in certain cultures that see our gender in a more passive role. However, if you looked around the room that day, the 100-plus women sitting there were all polished, well-spoken professionals who were not at all shy about speaking up.

Is it sad that only 14 percent of Fortune 500 companies are run by female CEOs? Yes. It’s not enough and companies can do a better job at mentoring and promoting women into the C-suite. But at the end of the day, we believe that the people who are going to succeed in business are those who take control of their destiny and promote their talents and assets, regardless of whether they’re male or female.

We know plenty of men who are not comfortable tooting their own horn and many women who have absolutely no problem doing so. (Ever wonder why the public relations industry is dominated by women?) As females, we cannot let the stereotypes affect our behavior at work — just because we’re thought to be unassertive, apologetic people-pleasers doesn’t mean we have to live up that caricature.

We have no problem being forthright and assertive with our partners and children, so why is it so hard for us to act that way at work? Think you can handle more responsibility? Tell your boss. Believe you’re worth more than you’re making? Prove it. Want a promotion? Ask for it. The worst they can say is no.

Do you think men are better at promoting themselves than women? If so, why? Share with us here, on Facebook or Twitter (@bestpublicist).


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