Women might have come a long way from fighting for their right to vote or to convince the world that they can contribute to the economy. Women’s contribution to the economy is already at $3 trillion and there are no signs of slowing down. Women are also seen as the rising tribe of entrepreneurs with 36% of all businesses owned by them.
Economists agree “economic empowerment of women across the rich world is one of the most remarkable revolutions of the past 50 years”.
Yet, women face tremendous systemic social and financial challenges, whether they are starting a business or climbing the corporate ladder. 43% of them leave the workforce once they become moms and find it difficult to return, even if they want to.
Here are a few ways in which women can crush it:
1. Cut out the guilt
There is subtle messaging all the time – the ubiquitous “lean-in” message, the “be-a-woman” message, the “be-a-good-mom” message that women have to deal with all the time. The truth is women need to get off the pressure of expectations and own their choices. If she wants to raise her kids as a stay-at-home mom, or start a blog, or run a multi-million dollar company – we need to see the strength in our choices, stick to it and give it our best.
Research shows that women are 30-40% more likely to feel guilt than men. Women are also reported to have more of floating anxiety (which is considered the worst kind of anxiety) – a phenomenon which has us worried about little things that need to get done every day. It helps when women break out of the mindset that they need to be super-ninja-women at all times. It’s worthwhile to remind ourselves of our enoughness. Here is a quote from Brene Brown’s book:
“Wholehearted living is about engaging with our lives from a place of worthiness. it’s about cultivating the courage, compassion and connection to wake up in the morning and think no matter what gets done and how much is left undone, I am enough.”
2. Recognize gaslighting
Gaslighting is a term that gained popularity and relevance from a 1944 MGM film “Gaslight”, starring Ingrid Bergman. Charles Boyer, who plays Bergman’s husband in the film tries to convince her that she is mentally unstable by intentionally having the gaslights in their home flicker on and off. Every time she notices it and reacts, he waves it off saying she is just seeing things – with the ultimate intention of getting his hands on her jewelry.
Sadly, for all the progress the world has made, there is a lot of “gaslighting” happening around us. Somehow, a woman voicing her concerns over an issue is seen as “over-reacting” or “emotional” or “hypersensitive”. The expectation is simple to gulp it down and go “with the flow”. Needless to say, the antidote is to be aware of it and stick to your guns.
3. Use firm language
One of the things that women do to aid the above phenomenon is to use language that is ambiguous and apologetic. According to this study, women are more likely to use tentative language, also known as “hedging language” while communicating at work.
An example is, “ I am sorry, but I am not sure that the data is right”. An affirmative alternative would be,”I think we need to see more data to support this.”
4. Get your family on-board
Women still take responsibility for the majority of household chores. Of course, there is nothing wrong with it if that’s by choice, but, most times it’s simply done out of a need to stick to social codes. According to this study, women who do more household chores tend to be less ambitious at work.
Women wouldn’t have to choose so much if the expectation to help them succeed at work is built into the family fabric. It simply means, plan out your day, ask for help and delegate responsibilities just like you would at work. Also, encourage men to avail their paternity leaves and encourage them to be equal parents. According to a Swedish study, there is a 7% lifetime salary increase for the partner, for every month a father takes off to care for the kids.
5. Be confident in your choices
Whether it is running a blog, or climbing up the corporate ladder, or just raising kids – it is important to be sure of your choices and simply do the best.
Here’s Mindy Kilang on confidence: “I always get asked, ‘Where do you get your confidence?’ I think people are well-meaning, but it’s pretty insulting. Because what it means to me is, ‘You, Mindy Kaling, have all the trappings of a very marginalized person. You’re not skinny, you’re not white, you’re a woman. Why on earth would you feel like you’re worth anything?’”
6. Put yourself first
The only way to be amazingly productive is to be in your best form – which means there is a real need to take care of yourself. Chalk out time to get your ‘me-time’, work on your health and unplug to get back with a bang!