Women should “man up” in the workplace to keep up with male co-workers

By Gabrielle Rosas

My father is the most successful man I know. He is one of the top executives in the multi-million dollar environmental consulting field. He’s 51 years old and works out religiously at the gym every day of the week. He has always seemed so much more confident and wealthy than I could ever hope to be. But he always pushed me, sometimes to the point of anger. When I was little, he used to ask me, “Gabs, are you a man or a mouse?” I would glare at him and reply, “I’m a girl, Dad.” He would laugh. I would scowl. But I realized after all those years that he was raising me to stand up for myself by challenging me, by using swift provocation.

I’m thanking him now because a new study conducted by several business schools, including the Columbia University Business School, shows that men are more successful professionally than women because they are more likely to exaggerate their accomplishments, which gives them the upper hand when competing for positions in the workplace.

In regard to my father, this makes more sense than I can express. Reading the results of the study, I had sudden flashbacks to eating dinner with him while he boasted about a new contract or client. My dad is the model male in this case.

I’m disappointed by the results of the study. As a woman, I’ve always taken pride in striving for equal treatment in every aspect of society. The fact of the matter is employers will value an applicant who is willing to brag a little, as it shows confidence and sets a level of expectation. The fastest way to lose credibility is to sit meekly in an interview and silently nod.

“When I’m hiring, I actually weed out candidates who under-price themselves because I assume they won’t perform at the level I expect,” Vickie Malazzo, author of “Wicked Success is Inside Every Woman,” told the Chicago Sun-Times.

As a generally modest and humble person, I genuinely find this a difficult skill to harness. I’ve heard enough stories about managers not hiring because applicants used the wrong pen or because they spelled something wrong in an email.

Luckily, there are simple, unobtrusive ways to flaunt accomplishments. Milazzo suggests in her new book that women need to talk about their various accomplishments to seem more valuable to the employer. Stating it in a matter-of-fact manner could help take the pressure off when put on the spot.

Yes, women need to buck up. But workplace authorities should also recognize that women are just as valuable as men in the workplace. Women have the upper hand when it comes to being relatable and competent, according to a study from the Duke University Fuqua School of Business. Undergraduate and graduate students who were surveyed in the study rated women higher in both categories if the woman was in a top-level position.

Ironically, this is because the double standards and glass ceiling work in favor of women. Because the traditional perceptions of women workers show them in communal, employee-focused work roles that encourage camaraderie, those surveyed chose them as the best leaders.

The societal paradigm is shifting. Women have slowly but surely earned more power in the last decade than ever before: Hillary Clinton, anyone? Even so, the study shows that a stigma still hangs over women because feminine qualities are still seen as inferior. This means women will have to keep working against societal barriers.

Women should take pride in their qualities. But for now, it’s time that women in every workplace ask themselves, “Am I a man or a mouse?”