Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Receiving a Job or Promotion Because You are a WOMAN

This month The Savvy Reader Book Club is reading Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead. Today is the forth in a series of posts I am writing though out the month inspired by Lean in. Previous posts discussed What does "lean-in" mean for you?, When Taking a Pay-Cut is a Good Career Move and Sheryl Sandberg's Advice on How to Get Hired.

Today I would like to talk about receiving a job or promotion because you are a woman.

When Sheryl was named the Treasury Department's chief of Staff in 1999, several people remarked to her:
"It must have helped that you were a woman." (Pg. 144)
Note there was no affirmative action for woman at the Treasury.

Oh my gosh! People have said something similar to me.  When I was in school studying to be a CPA more than one person told me I would have no trouble finding a job when I finished because "I was a woman."

Not even two weeks ago, a male I know who works for a fortune 500 company, told me the only way you can be promoted today in his division was to be a minority female. Seriously, I can't imagine promotions are awarded to minority females over men just because of gender or race.

It was conversations like these that inspired Sheryl to begin talking about women in the workplace. Here is a quote from her very first talk on this subject:
I began my talk by explaining that in business we are taught to fit in, but that I was starting to think this might not be the right approach.  I said out loud that there are differences between men and women both in their behavior and in the way their behavior is perceived by others.  I admitted that I could see these dynamics playing out in the workforce, and that, in order to fix the problems, we needed to be able to talk about gender without people thinking we were crying for help, asking for special treatment, or about to sue.  (Pg. 145)
Have you ever been told you or someone else received a job or promotion because of gender?  How do you think we can change these stereotypes?


  1. no sadly i have never benefited from anything career wise for being a woman. one of my best friends likes to say, tongue in cheek, "you are smarter than me and work harder than me, but i will always make more money than you because i am a white male."

  2. I'm self employed now but in the last place I worked, they were really hot on equality in the workplace. They valued a diverse working culture and supported training at all levels. That side of it was really good, but alas, my workload was much too heavy and the office politics made me wish for self employment in the end!

  3. I was told that I was hired at one job "on sight" implying that it was based on looks which is pretty ridiculous and really seemed like it was meant to diminish my value as a star employee. This was later affirmed when they started hiring another wave of employees and pre-decided whether they were hiring males or females before ever looking at resumes. I ought to have reported them to the Dept of Labor but I didn't know quite as much about handling this sort of complicated stuff as I do now.

  4. I don't know, at this point, I think I would take a promotion for being a woman, just because I think it would even the scales for all the times the men have received the advantage. It is interesting though - I went to a seminar a few months ago called Women Don't Ask - by Chellie Campbell. She said that men make more money because they ASK for it. It is part of their competitive nature. Women are raised to be more social and compliants, so they don't feel comfortable with the ask. I actually have gotten up the guts to ASK for a promotion at work. I put it on my goals for the year and I plan to talk more with my boss about it at my next review. Hopefully, it will lead to something good, especially since I've got some good statistics in my favor to back it up - I am top in my department in several different areas. I think that's the key. You have to be able to show them some visible results of why you deserve the promotion, raise, better working conditions, etc. #SITSharefest

  5. Huh, interesting question. On the one hand, there's plenty of evidence that men are more likely to be promoted - but whenever a woman (or someone from any protected minority) gets promoted there's a question of whether it's "tokenism" or "positive discrimination"... I haven't experienced it personally but I do hear about it a lot.

  6. Catherine,
    Unfortunately your friend is probably right.

  7. Hayley,
    Good to see companies valuing equality and a diverse work culture. Sadly many companies even the good ones overwork their employees. Glad to hear self-employment is working out for you.

  8. Revanche,
    Wow talk about devaluing an employee from the get go. Your story reminded me of the waitressing job I was hired for on the spot because I fit into the uniform. So glad those days are over.

  9. That's interesting! I don't think I've ever experienced this in my own life, but I can imagine people in our culture who think this way.