by Sara Kooperman, JD
Frequently, women think that there is a glass ceiling inhibiting their ability to reach that promotion or raise. However, sometimes it’s just selecting the right cleats or gym shoes for the climb! Often, perceived gender roles coupled with personal insecurities or impressions inhibit women in their rise to the top. Women should learn to play the game, and better understand the playing field. Women need to learn how to get picked for the team and which uniform to wear when scoring the winning goal. Understanding these rules of the game and how they apply to the climb can help us to climb the corporate ladder.
In general, girls must just be a good girl. Boys are taught to be a man— to be strong, not to cry, give in, or give up.
The short story: Boys play to win and girls play to play. With boys, the game has a beginning, middle and an end. Someone wins, someone loses and then everyone goes out for pizza together. With girls, the game of house never ends. It goes on and on and continues day after day. The corporate world imitates sports. Fueled by competition, business is a game, and revolves around one’s ability to win. There is a winner and a loser. Business is business and not personal. In the female world, girls never forget, and can carry grudges and gossip or take things personally. To be a successful woman in business, you must develop the fine art of balance—learning how to be tough, but never too tough, strong but not too strong.
Women also need to ask themselves: “Do you want to be the trophy, or the person winning the trophy?”
Some great advice for finding and keeping success is to find a mentor you trust, and get opinions that you respect. Only settle for people who continue to push you to thrive and succeed, and never be afraid to ask for support. Asking for help should never be seen as a sign of weakness, but a sign of intelligence. Work hard, take credit for what you do. Ask for responsibility, assume control, and be unapologetic in your ability to make firm, important decisions. Don’t be modest. Assume success.
Above all: Don’t be ignored, don’t stay in the safety zone, and don’t give the ball away. Don’t be afraid to step over the line, but accept the responsibility if you’re caught fouling out.
It’s a common fact that both men and women tend to prefer male bosses and supervisors. The most recent Gallop data, 34% of men preferred a male boss, while 10% preferred a female boss. 40% of women preferred a male boss, while 26% of women preferred a female boss. Men win—hands down.
Just remember: If you’re a female going for that promotion, or opening your own business, accept and expect criticism. Learn to live with gossip and naysayers, and take control of your own decisions to empower and give your voice authority.
In the fitness industry, being a boss or supervisor has its own challenges—the fitness industry is often perceived to be a boys’ club, and is far more sexist than many other industries. Packed with testosterone, full of ex-jocks opening their own gyms and cheerleaders who mill about supporting them, the industry becomes divided by gender roles and stereotypes. Unfortunately, women, and especially group fitness instructors, want to “be liked” and “popular”. We try to be friends with co-workers and employees, though this often back-fires.
As an example, a typical group fitness instructor becomes completely unsettled when one person walks out of their packed class of 30. Even though there are 29 people devoted to the class, the focus remains on the person that walked out rather than the 29 in front of you. Women must learn to focus on the 29 people in the room and forge ahead.
In short, respect is equally important in the world of finance and friendship.
It can always be a little lonely at the top—but don’t fret. The view is great, and you certainly get to eat better!
To learn more about how to succeed as a woman in the workplace, visit www.scwfitness.com for managerial lectures and motivational seminars on leadership from the most successful men and women in the fitness industry.