Being able to work well with others is a standard requirement for most jobs today. But a new study suggests that women do not get their fair share of credit for group work, especially when they work with men. This study – reported by Harvard Business Review – looks primarily at women in academia and finds that women are tenured at far lower rates than men. Prior research has found that this can’t be fully explained by differences in productivity or family commitments. Instead, the study suggests that the promotion gap appears when women work in groups with men.
Case in point, women who solo-author all their papers have roughly the same chance of receiving tenure as a man. However, women who coauthor most of their work have a significantly lower probability of receiving tenure, even after controlling for things like productivity differences, school, year of tenure, field, and coauthor selection. On the other hand, one coauthored paper has the same effect on tenure as a solo-authored paper for a man.
So what gives? Working together to make our voices heard and hold our own in a male dominated environment is the foundation of Leading Women, and drives our mission to empower women in the workplace, in the community, and in the world. My Leading Women co-author Claire Damken Brown, agrees that making our voices heard is key when it comes to getting ahead and writes, “If women are seen and not heard, they lose the opportunity to contribute their ideas and be evaluated equitably for that next promotion.”
How do we make our voices heard in situations like those uncovered by this new study? In Leading Women Brown writes that there are several challenges that still confront women and the differences in the value placed on men’s and women’s communication behaviors can make women appear less capable and credible. If women can’t get their voices heard or have their comments taken seriously, then they can’t build on-the-job-credibility. Without that credibility women cannot be accurately evaluated for the promotions and career opportunities that will propel them to the executive suite.
That being said, in the book Brown teaches several ways that women can learn specific communication behaviors to increase their impact and workplace credibility. There are three main communication styles that differ between women and men, and can be key when it comes to influencing credibility.
- Manage interruptions – women can learn how to keep or take back the floor.
- Exercise the art of the brief response – women can learn when to stop talking.
- Prevent idea theft – women can learn how to handle a man sharing (and claiming) an amazing idea, that she presented ten minutes before.
Women can learn which communication tools they can use to be sure their messages are heard. Controlling these behaviors is a crucial first step towards increasing women’s voices and credibility.
We all want to believe that our work speaks for itself, but collaboration makes it inherently harder. As more and more jobs require group work, we need to do everything we can to make sure our voices, and the voices of our sisters, are heard. We need to work together and with the men in our workplace to make sure all credit is given where credit is due, without gender bias in the picture. This goes far beyond gender; it is a true workplace issue that impacts us all. That means it’s the employers’ responsibility to make sure that everyone gets the recognition they deserve, and it’s up to employees to demand the credit they’re owed.
Get these tips from Dr. Brown and the advice of 19 other amazing women, including Dr. Lois Frankel who reminds us, “Silence is not golden when men do all the talking.” – order your copy of Leading Women here.