I remember reading an alarming statistic over a year ago suggesting that women’s stories and achievements only made up for 0.5% of recorded history. I thought back to school and realised I was none the wiser – I never questioned why we were often only hearing about the achievements of men.
Though we have come so far, it is no wonder there is still a generational hangover. Let’s face it, it was only 79 years ago that women were allowed to work in Australia and in even more recent times, given full propriety of their own career. We now find ourselves in a position where women are afforded more opportunities to be seen and heard, yet that doesn’t always mean they feel comfortable taking them.
In a study titled – “The Gender Gap in Self-Promotion,” researchers from Wharton and Harvard found that when it comes to self-promotion, women often rate themselves lower than men do – even if their work in question was objectively better.
So, what can we do to change the narrative and ensure our future is not only equally shaped by women, but seen to be?
Here are five tips for women who are ready to challenge themselves:
1. Reframe ‘self-promotion’ as ‘self-less promotion’-
Instead of looking at any efforts to put oneself out there as being entirely self-motivated, it helps to put a bigger purpose into play. All of a sudden becoming visible is not so much about stroking one’s ego, it is about achieving the influence that will allow for greater impact.
2. Power pose in your profile shot
From a personal branding perspective, your profile shot is an essential asset. Research has shown that the context, style, and facial expressions displayed in a headshot can dramatically shape perceived levels of likeability, influence, and competence. Standing or sitting confidently with direct eye contact are only some ways to visually send a powerful message.
3. Say ‘Thank you’
One of the fastest ways to build self-doubt and insecurity is to downplay your achievements. Not only does it create a negative story within, but it also sends a message to those you encounter that perhaps you really don’t deserve the praise or recognition. When a compliment is offered, saying ‘Thank you’ is the best way to own the achievement, accept the recognition, and be seen.
4. Give up the idea of perfection
In a post Brene Brown world, where vulnerability is a buzzword and transparency is the accepted norm, it is time to celebrate the fact we are all imperfectly perfect. There is no perfect time to start putting oneself out there, the perfect time is now.
5. Tap into the power of your network
In an interview with Forbes, Sally Helgesen, co-author of How Women Rise: Break the 12 Habits Holding You Back from Your Next Raise, Promotion, or Job, was quoted saying, “Women don’t always benefit from the strong relationships they cultivate and nurture in the workplace because they are reluctant to leverage their relationships, by which we mean engaging others to help them meet either specific or long-term career goals.”
Personal branding, ironically, is not something you can do alone. Having a strong network of people recommending you and singing your praise is all part of creating a powerful personal brand.
Yes, gender biases may raise their ugly heads, glass ceilings may still exist, and women may be subjected to more criticism online than their male counterparts; but a firm challenge has never stopped us before and will not stop us now. In order to change the narrative, more of us need to be out there and part of the story.