Women in Tech

Head Up (vs. Head Down)

According to recent research, women are starting their careers with more education than men. So, why is it that women are less likely to ask for raises, aspire to top management, or share accomplishments with their bosses?

Gender in Education Graph - PEW Center

At last week’s Ms. Tech event, speaker Ce Cole Dillon (COO, School Loan 411) reflected on her experience as a senior-level manager. She mentioned that the men in her office were quick to share their accomplishments, while the women sat with their heads down, diligently doing the work. Cole Dillon made it clear to the audience that women need to be better about self-promotion. “If you don’t share your goals and accomplishments, your boss will assume you are comfortable in your present role.”

Don’t just assume people know what you are doing. Show them. Tell them. Sheryl Sandberg, COO at Facebook and author of Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead also advocates for women to keep their heads up. “Hard work and results should be recognized by others, but when they aren’t, advocating for oneself becomes necessary.”

So, the question remains, why is this so difficult? Perhaps it is because, from an early age, boys and girls are taught to conduct themselves differently. Author Carol Gilligan explored this idea in depth in her 1982 groundbreaking book titled In a Different Voice. The book explores differing gender roles that are instilled early in life. In particular, girls are expected to be “compliant, quiet and introspective.” Gilligan also noted that “Boys’ play is observed as more competitive, while girls’ play is more cooperative.”

Not that cooperation itself is altogether a bad thing, but perhaps we as women need to retrain ourselves to be more assertive? According to Roger Liew, CTO at Orbitz – that’s exactly what women need to do. During our ARA event, Women in Tech: The Male Perspective, Liew noted, “There’s a perception women won’t ask for what they want. No one keeps score for you. You must talk about your own ‘wins.’ ”

Photo: ARA Panel, The Male Perspective

Still not convinced? Check out 1871’s CEO Howard A. Tullman’s thought-provoking comments on the subject. One of my favorite quotes, “Passion is just the flip (and far more attractive) side of aggression . . . The people who want it the most and care the most are the ones who make things happen.”

Remember, self-promotion is not about seeking approval. It’s about seeking feedback. And, if you don’t work for someone with whom you feel comfortable sharing your accomplishments, perhaps it’s time to dust off your resume.