In Hardball for Women, Pat Heim shows women how to break patterns of behavior that have put them at a disadvantage in the business world of men. Whether the arena is a law firm, a medical group, a corporation, or any other work environment, Hardball for Women decodes the male business culture and gives readers strategies on how to use its rules to get ahead—and stay ahead. Readers will learn to:
Be assertive without being obnoxious
Engage in smart self-promotion
Lead both men and women—and recognize the differences between them
Use “power talk” language to your advantage
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Pat Heim, Ph.D., is an internationally known speaker and consultant. Her Los Angeles firm, Heim & Associates, has been providing services in the areas of leadership, communication, team building, and gender differences to hundreds of organizations, including AT&T, the Los Angeles Times, General Motors, the American Medical Association, and Price Waterhouse. She has a Ph.D. in communication from the University of Colorado.
Susan K. Golant M.A. is a writer specializing in women's issues, parenting, and business.
—PAT HEIM, PHD
PACIFIC PALISADES, CALIFORNIA,
—SUSAN K. GOLANT, MA,
LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, JUNE 2014
It ain’t over yet!
When we first wrote Hardball for Women: Winning at the Game of Business in 1991 and then revised it in 2004, we had high hopes that our message would reach men and women at work and that the road would be paved for female advancement in the workplace. And yes, many changes have taken place in the past twenty-five years as women crowd the ranks of middle management. But sadly, there still is a dearth of females at the highest levels of leadership in companies and on boards. The real challenge is to move out of middle management. It’s the danger spot. Women can get there—yay! But getting there usually requires so much flexing to a male style, they become disgruntled, wear out, and eventually quit. And so they never make it to the upper echelons.
We know this from experience. A few years ago, Tammy facilitated a panel at an international pharmaceutical company. The all-male senior team was brought in to share tips for success with the top three hundred women in the organization. It’s easy to summarize their entire discussion in four words: “Behave like a man.” Here’s what the men advised:
• Be tough. Don’t ever look weak.
• Don’t get your feelings hurt.
• Speak your mind and dominate meetings.
• Don’t ever tell people what you’re not good at.
• Stop asking questions—give answers.
• Look and sound more confident.
• Work long hours.
• Promote yourself all the time.
Tammy noticed that the women in the audience had become tense. They looked frustrated and angry. They stopped focusing on what the leaders were saying and started turning aside, murmuring to their neighbors. What was going on? When it was her turn to take the floor, Tammy did her best to soften and rephrase some of the leaders’ comments and make sense of the disparate gender cultures for the audience. But at the end of the day, after talking with the attendees and listening to them during coffee breaks, it was clear that the damage had been done.
These women heard that there was a spot for them at the top if only they’d stop operating out of their natural strengths . . . pretty much altogether. And that put them in a terrible double bind. When women are assertive in the ways this senior male team suggested, they are perceived as effective leaders but lacking in interpersonal skills. But if they are more collaborative (the expected feminine style), they are perceived as too soft and lacking in leadership behaviors. A difficult message indeed. And so, our Hardball work is still cut out for us. Women need to learn the rules of hardball so they can win at work.
There is a notable gap in how men and women regard the gender diversity problem. Men are much more likely than women to disagree that female executives face more difficulties in reaching top management. And men see less value in diversity initiatives that could correct the gender imbalance. According to gender consultant and CEO of 20-First, Avivah Wittenberg-Cox, most male business leaders are truly convinced that they work in a meritocracy, in which everyone rises commensurate with his or her ability and contributions. And most male managers have no idea how male-normed today’s corporate cultures, management mind-sets, and policy processes still are. There is a massive disconnect between an educational system that now produces 60 percent female college graduates and a business world that hasn’t yet figured out how to make the most of this talent pool.
It is of utmost importance that it does, however. Why? First of all, because it’s going to cost big if it doesn’t! The total price of replacing a senior manager can be three times that person’s salary. According to some estimates, the cost of turnover for knowledge-based companies is even higher—a whopping 500 percent. Goldman Sachs calculates that increasing women’s participation to male levels in the labor market would boost GDP by 21 percent in Italy, 19 percent in Spain, 16 percent in Japan, and 9 percent in the U.S., France, and Germany.
That’s simple math. But the human costs are evident in the stories of the women we meet every day. Take, for instance, the story of Lara, a female engineer on an all-male team at a tech giant in Silicon Valley. After Tammy’s keynote at the Global Women’s Conference, Lara approached her and explained that more than a year earlier, her male manager had pulled her aside and said, “I want you to stop talking at my meetings altogether. You’re slowing down progress for all of us by asking questions and trying to talk through things too much. If you want to keep your job, you’d better start by being quiet.”
This was devastating to Lara, who had trained for years for her position in this prestigious company and who was the sole support of her two children. She couldn’t risk losing her good job, so she lived frustrated every day as she attended team meetings and never uttered a word. It was even more painful to her that none of the male peers on her team seemed to miss her voice or even try to draw her into their discussions. Lara had become a noncontributor, and that’s a loss not only for her personally but also for her team and company. How many other Laras are out there, struggling to survive while they squash their true natures? Who would fault them for jumping ship at the earliest opportunity?
If men can be brought to understand the tension of the double bind for women (“be a woman but act like a man—but not too much, or you’ll be judged a bitch”), we can all manage female advancement better. One of our intentions with this book is not only to teach women men’s ways but also to help men understand how life is different in the female culture, so they can read their female colleagues more accurately.
LET’S LOOK AT SOME HARD NUMBERS
These anecdotal stories we’ve gathered are not isolated cases of discriminatory behavior. Rather, they are supported by disturbing data. Developmental studies of boys and girls show that children of both sexes have the same desires for achievement: Both wish for accomplishment requiring work or skills; both desire recognition and honor. But fast-forward twenty or more years and the reality looks different than expectations.
In 1966, only 2 percent of women received BAs in business and management. Today, 40 percent of business degrees go to women. Women have long accounted for approximately half of the professional and managerial labor force in the U.S., but only 3 percent of the bosses in Fortune 500 companies and 5 percent in the FTSE 100 Index are women. Harvard business professor Myra Hart found that 62 percent of the Harvard Business School’s female graduates with more than one child were either not working or working part-time just five years after graduation. Others have found that ten years after graduating, only about half the female MBAs who chose to have children remain in the labor force.
On March 25, 2014, the new U.S. secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, noted that women are still underrepresented “at the highest levels in academia, in government, and in business.” Here are some statistics that you may find disturbing:
• According to the findings of the 2013 Catalyst Census of Fortune 500 women board directors, women held only 16.9 percent of board seats. Less than one-fifth of companies had 25 percent or more female directors, while one-tenth had no women on their boards at all. Women of color fared much worse, holding only 3.2 percent of board seats.
• While women have represented approximately 40 percent of law school graduates since the mid-1980s, less than 20 percent have made partner.
• Women made up 49 percent of medical school graduates in 2008, yet less than 30 percent of physicians are female. In academic medicine, women account for one-third of the faculty, yet they are only 17 percent of the full professors and 12 percent of department chairs.
• In 2010, women in government represented 17 percent of the Senate and House seats and approximately 25 percent of the members of state legislatures.
• Seventy-two percent of women in the U.S. perceive bias in their performance evaluations.
• Forty-four percent report feeling they were being judged against male leadership standards and asked to walk the tricky line between aggressiveness and assertiveness that can often derail careers.
• Even in typically female-dominated professions such as social work and nursing, men move up more quickly than their women colleagues.
What happens to the grand ambitions of girlhood? Why have they been quashed? Many reasons come to mind. Differences between the sexes can mean that women either don’t seek high-risk jobs or don’t perform in them as well as men do. Why not? For one thing, discrimination still exists—sexism is alive and well in some workplaces. And even though formal barriers to women’s advancement have been abolished, unconscious biases and the many culture clashes we outline throughout this book may continue to interfere with women’s promotions, awards, and honors.
Another issue—which we hadn’t considered in earlier editions of this book—is simple biology. In the past decade, new brain research has taught us much about the role of testosterone in men and the biology of gender behaviors. This is important, because when Pat first started in this field in the mid-’80s, gender scholars assumed our differing behaviors were due solely to how boys and girls were socialized—what youngsters learned at home, on the playground, and at school. They didn’t realize that some of the differences (such as risk taking and risk aversion) were physiologically based. Therefore, it was easy to say that women just needed to change their behavior and become more like men to advance their careers. We now know it’s far more complicated than that.
Because some behavior is prewired, it becomes even more imperative to understand and value the differences between men and women rather than to think that we can change human nature. If both genders are unaware that this is in large part how we’re built, then it’s easy to get irritated, to think the other gender is doing it wrong, or to disrespect them for screwing up.
So in this book, we’re asking women not to abandon their strengths but rather to understand them and how they interface with a more masculine way of behaving. And we’re asking men not to behave like women but rather to understand and value their female colleagues’ mind-set in order to work together more effectively and with less conflict.
WHAT WE CAN DO ABOUT IT
In Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg makes the point that conditions for all women will improve “when there are more women in leadership roles giving strong and powerful voice to their needs and concerns. This brings us to the obvious question—how?”
Yes, how indeed. How do we get more women in leadership positions? We believe we have the solution.
The first step is to acknowledge that men and women do live in different worlds. When you judge coworkers of another gender by your own rules, you can misinterpret and see unkindness when none was intended.
The best way out of this miasma is to learn about the differences and then talk about them. As long as they are invisible and unaddressed, these disjunctures can never be fully rectified. The information you will glean from this book will help you decide when to flex and act like a man if you have to, when to use your new knowledge to understand behaviors that might have baffled you before, and when you can rely on your female strengths to get the job done. We will teach you what it means to be a “team player” in the male world. We will help you become the leader you want to be. But if you don’t know what the game is, if you don’t know the rules of hardball, you’ve lost before you’ve begun.
Since the mid-1980s (what seems like the Stone Age to us now!), Pat Heim has been conducting workshops and lectures on gender differences at companies around the world. Twenty years ago, Tammy Hughes joined her in that endeavor, delivering workshops and keynote addresses to multinational corporations. We are happy to include Tammy’s expertise, experience, and fresh voice in these pages.
We’ve updated all of the research to include the latest information and statistics available. We’ve made sure to address the concerns of women who might have already assimilated some hardball rules—albeit still from a female perspective. And, as mentioned earlier, we’ve included, where appropriate, a discussion of the biological underpinnings of some male and female behaviors to underscore that the disconnect we encounter is not all based on social learning.
Many of the stories in this third edition of Hardball are derived from our work consulting with and instructing organizations (both the leadership and their rank-and-file employees) around the globe. We’ve added some new material from the growing high-tech world and revisited every word and concept in the book to make sure it’s relevant for today’s women—for example, addressing how they can protect themselves on social networking sites. We revisited our discussion about dressing for success and replaced it with more current data and practices based on what women do today. We also included a whole section on confidence at the end of our leadership chapter—why women lack it (even those at the top of the heap) and what they can do about it. And we touch briefly on how to teach children about gender issues so that these problems may extinguish themselves over the next generation.
Finally, we wrote a chapter directed at the heads of corporations, explaining to them how and why they suffer financially when they exclude women from the ranks of their leaders, how to get and hold on to their female talent, and the real reasons women quit their jobs (hint: it’s not to stay home with their kids).
Societal changes are long and hard in coming. Over the years, we’ve watched as women have made some great strides, but it ain’t over yet! Female advancement cannot be dismissed as a merely a “women’s issue.” Corporations won’t make deep levels of change without men on board who understand what they’re losing when they don’t advance their most talented women. Yes, organizations need men to champion awareness and understanding of both gender cultures. Lacking that, crucial changes may never occur, and intelligent, committed women will continue to leave the corporate world.
This book has evolved over the past twenty-five years to address female advancement and leadership. We have identified that the real challenge today is getting into senior positions and onto boards. You still have to pick your way through the minefield of middle management to get there. Hardball for Women will teach you how to identify the lay of the land and then make smart choices. It will give you specific steps so that you will understand when to depend on your female skills and when to adapt to or at least comprehend the male culture. It will help you avoid the typical mid-level burnout scenario that we’ve seen time and time again. We don’t want you to become disgruntled, wear out, and eventually quit. We want you to win at the game of business and thrive!
THE GAME OF BUSINESS
It was past 7:30 P.M. but the computer screen at Emily’s desk s...
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