Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Gender Roles at Work

It seems that every conversation I've had lately with friends about careers ends with the men figuring out what kind of action they're going to take, and the women saying they will "wait it out" and see what happens.

This isn't anything new -- men are socialized to be aggressive, especially about their careers. I've studied enough about stereotypes and gender roles to know that when something goes wrong, men are not as quick to blame themselves as women are. Women are socialized to be accepting of the position they have, and think that asking for more will make others see them negatively.

A close friend gave me a great example. She knows a man who went on an interview and then worked hard to cultivate the relationship with those who would play a role in the decision-making. He went out of his way to secure his position as a top candidate, and made it clear that he wanted them to choose him. Meanwhile, another friend of hers has remained in the same position at her job for 5 years. She had the opportunity at various times to work towards a promotion or to find a better position at another company. Instead, she wanted to remain loyal to her team.

Stories like these always make me feel like I should be doing more to advance my own position. I know that I now do a lot more at my job than what was originally expected of me. I've been able to use my skills to make the most of my position, and I know that if I keep this up for a few more months, I will most certainly deserve a raise.

What I'm not so certain about is whether or not I'll actually bring myself to ask for a raise. I convince myself that this is all they can give me, that I haven't been here long enough, and so forth. But would a man in my position be saying the same things? Would he at least try to ask for it?

How about you? Are you as proactive as you should be in your career?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm proactive, I think. That is, after just 8 months I'm completely dissatisfied with office culture and I'm working on a plan to become self-employed by the end of June. Yes, I know, I'm pursuing self-employment in the middle of a recession. But I have a steely resolve that will get me through. I'm already developing a business plan, making a list of supplies I will need (i.e. a printer), developing a way to keep track of business expenses, thinking about advertising, reading up on freelancing and self-employment, and getting advice from people I know who are doing it now. So yeah, I think I am pretty proactive, just not in a way that fits in with typical office advancement.

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