From the lens of an employee of a bank in The Netherlands, where a constant pressure to work within regulatory deadlines, with a high-powered set up, calls for one to be on their toes, be extremely driven, and sometimes even putting in more hours than stipulated in the employment contract.
Within this setup, I have observed differences in the management and leadership styles of men and women. I have noticed that men, on an average, showcase more confidence on taking up a role than women do, despite few of them being equally or sometimes lesser qualified than women for the same role. It has also been observed that men and women, in general, react differently to success. In fact, success and likeability are related to some extent and there appear to be different rules for men and women from a stereotypical point of view. It is a common trend that the more success women tend achieve in an organisation, the more they are perceived as being bossy, bordering towards being disliked. This is especially the case when the top management is populated by more men than women.
Sheryl Sandberg in her book ‘Lean In’, suggests that owning one’s success is the key to achieving more success. Professional advancement depends upon people believing that an employee is contributing to good results. Men can comfortably claim credit for what they do as long as they don’t veer into arrogance. For women, taking credit comes at a real social and professional cost. In fact, there have been studies to show that a woman who explains why she is qualified or mentions previous successes in a job interview, can lower her chances of getting hired. The studies showcase that they generally come across as being more arrogant for taking claim of their successes. From personal experience, I was able to identify these differences in behaviours and perceptions. This kind of ‘owning of successes’ was typical of the male lead consultant on our project, despite him having fewer numbers of years of experience than anyone on the team. However, it was interesting to note that when his counterpart, a female lead who had more years of experience than him was leaving the project with a higher contribution from her end and a lesser display of her contributions, she gave more credit to the team for contributing in her success than she gave herself.
I feel that it is commonplace to notice that women are not so ‘out there’ as men are. Part of the reason for this behavioural difference is the way boys and girls are raised. In a study conducted by Duke University, it was seen that parents usually instructed their daughters to ‘be careful’, ‘not do this or that’, imploring them to be safe and not be adventurous. In contrast, from a very early age, boys are encouraged to take charge and offer their opinions. They are told to be adventurous and raised to be ‘go-getters’. This is how young women internalise societal cues about what defines ‘appropriate’ behaviour and in turn silence themselves. This is palpable in meetings and discussions and can negatively or adversely affect their careers.
(The author is Malika Davar. The views expressed are personal)
Writer: The Pioneer
Courtesy: Malika Davar