women

Why Women Do Business Better

Women-in-business

By Rachel Wagers

This is not an article on feminism, nor one fighting for equal pay - though I do support that, naturally. This article was originally going to be about how women carry and birth children, multitask and walk in stilettos; all of the things we hold over men’s heads, seemingly in opposition of their superior upper-body strength. But as I was fleshing out the ideas I had in my head for this article and doing research, I had a sudden, wait-a-minute moment.

It seems that while men may have laid down the framework for the glass ceiling, women have successfully soldered it in. As I poured over the scientific community’s research and read about real-life experiences of various people, I came to a quick and enlightening conclusion:

Women aren’t better at business. And we need to stop thinking we are. 

Researchers are just starting to dip their toes into this subject, and the results are even more surprising than you’d think. It turns out we might be holding ourselves back - not just by comparing ourselves to men. You read correctly. Women are holding women back. I have worked in a leadership position, rising up at a time when I was advised not to tell anyone my age, because it would be held against me - especially since I was a woman.  I was told I had to “work harder to prove myself,” and that it was a “sad truth” by my lovingly supportive boss. He believed in me, but assured me that, despite their trust in him as a leader, those under me would not see me in the same light.

Mainstream media abhors this kind of gender bias and many large companies are coming to the realisation that it’s still happening within their walls to an unacceptable extent. According to the EOWA 2010 Australian Census of Women in Leadership, women hold only 8.4% of Board Directorship positions and, as of 2010, over half of the ASX200 companies had no women board members - a number which has increased by 4.3% since 2004. 

How is this still a thing? Women are often, upon graduating, more qualified than their male counterparts - despite their tendency to undervalue and underestimate themselves and there have been movements spanning years for gender equality. Yet, the numbers are still staggeringly skewed. There is an underlying gender bias that goes against every notion we’ve been taught. 

Women don’t like having women bosses, are less likely to hire a female subordinate and generally discriminate against their own sex - even the staunchest of feminists. From academia to the corporate ladder, women across many fields have been found guilty of holding back their lady peers. 

When gender stereotypes - women being “helpful, gentle and nurturing" versus men as “assertive, confident and controlling” - are bent, and women are assertive or confident (see: bitchy) their female underlings don’t like it. Instead of seeing a confident woman in charge, perhaps they see someone who took their place. On the flip side, women on top are notably harsher to females beneath them. One study found that this could be as a deterrent “against threatening upward social comparisons.” As in, “Bitch, I worked for this, now step off.” This phenomenon is happening despite the same study finding that when female bosses gave positive feedback to female employees, the employees’ negative opinions of the “successful women” (i.e. bosses) in the study were lessened.

The most amazing trivia piece of all the studies? Believe it or not, the more jobs men held throughout their careers, the more they thought women make the best bosses.  Let that sink in for a moment.

Moral of the story?

If women supported other women in the workplace, be it top-down or bottom-up, we would all be better off. Not to mention it would raise GDP, facilitate the narrowing of the gender gap and let’s throw in equal pay rights - just for good measure. Remember the leadership position with the highly encouraging boss I mentioned? The sad truth? He was right. The saddest truth? I had the hardest time converting the women - both those above and below me. And quite frankly, it sucked.

As I was writing this piece, I emailed women in leadership to ask, “What is one way that you think women can further their positions in the business world?” The most poignant and summarizing response came from Jodie Fox, the co-founder of Shoes of Prey, a Sydney-based, custom shoe retailer: “The more women simply hold their ground and find conviction in their beliefs, talent and work - the more they can further their position.” That means not belittling the women working beneath you. That means supporting other women who make it to the top, and maybe even aspiring to be like them instead of whispering behind their backs.

That means being a strong, confident woman that is just as good at business as men.

You can find Rachel blogging here or on Instagram

#blogtribe: The Power of Positive Friendship

By Phoebe Lee
About two years ago I went through a period of change, I had pushed myself too hard and finally gotten to the point where I was a big, blubbering, overwhelmed mess feeling like I'd missed out on my whole life. Sexy, right? This delightful little moment of hitting rock bottom forced me to start making some big changes in my life. One of the biggest was to take a really good look at the people in my life.

Friends come in all shapes and sizes. There's the Facebook-only friends, who you hide from when you see them at Coles. There's the users, who only pop up when they need something or want to get together so they can spend five hours whinging about their love life. There's also the life-long friends, who you see once in a blue moon but feel like no time has passed when you finally do catch up, as well as the ya-ya-sisterhood/border-line same-sex relationship you have with your very best friend. You're not just friends, you're soul mates!

When I finally took a closer look at my friend garden, I realised it was in need of some serious weeding. It wasn't until after the weeding was done I realised how influential my friendships with other women had been, how much the negative ones had been weighing me down and how important it was for me to foster positive relationships with other women.

Strolling through a supermarket, mulling over a very important Maltesers purchase, I picked up a trashy mag and started flicking through it. Most of the pages were covered with pictures of other women and the accompanying text a series of put-downs. Page after page of things like, 'Who wore it better?' 'Why did her marriage fail?' 'Check out her weight-gain,' 'Why is she struggling to lose the post-baby weight?' and 'Is her career over?' In fact, this same magazine had an entire page devoted to a picture of Rihanna. There was a close up of her legs and they had zoomed in to show she hadn't shaved them. Really? REALLY? This is print-worthy? I haven't shaved my legs since last November, give me the whole cover of the magazine!

Those magazines are aimed at women, we're the target market and there's something seriously wrong with the whole thing because magazine's like those are making woman-to-woman put-downs okay, when it's not okay at all. I began to imagine what it would feel like to pick up one of those magazines and, instead, see pages covered in positive stories about celebrity success. Things like, 'These women look beautiful today,' 'Single, smart, successful women we adore,' 'This woman looks perfect after having her baby,' or 'Five intelligent quotes from talented actresses.'

Gossiping, bitching and general nastiness between girls tends to start at school. We've all been bitched about and we've all bitched about someone. It's never a nice feeling to find out what someone else has said about you behind your back, despite this we tend to get sucked back into it. I know I'm guilty of it, I had the wrong friends in my life and when I was around them I turned into another person, someone I didn't like. Afterwards I felt really guilty about it, but guilt wasn't good enough, it had to stop. Saying something bad about someone else doesn't make you feel better, it just instills doubt in your mind and makes you question yourself.

Why do we waste time on bad friendships if all they do is bring us down and make us feel bad? If we're entitled to choose who our friends are, why aren't all our friendships good ones?

With this in mind, I weeded my garden. I got out my secateurs, pulled on my gloves and pruned away the crappy friends. I dug out the deep-rooted weeds that had been choking me, taking all my energy and turning me into someone I didn't like. I also took time to nurture the few friendships I truly valued, which turned out to be the small and perfect number of six very beautiful women. Just six. As for the rest, well, cutting them off mentally was the easy part, the hard part was telling myself not to feel guilty about it. I stopped returning calls, texts and emails and mentally snipped our friendship cord. It only took a few months to start feeling a difference and it was a feeling of white, crisp, cleanliness.

Focusing on my six great friends created trust and security in my life. I knew they wouldn't be upset if I was busy and couldn't see them, I knew none of them would ever say a bad word behind my back and I would never say a bad word behind theirs. When we got together we would talk about positive, meaningful things like how our life-dreams and aspirations were coming along and we would laugh about fun, fond memories. We would never judge, criticize or berate each other, but would always be honest, after all if your new pants don't sit well on your hips, you need a trusted friend to tell you. Focusing on these six women made me happier than I'd ever been. It still does.

I had to make another big change too, this one had to do with me. I began trying my absolute best to give nothing but love and support to other women. If I had nothing nice to say, I didn't say anything at all. If I felt jealous, I looked at myself and asked, 'Why? What's going on with me that I want what someone else has?" My beef isn't with another woman, it's with myself. Maybe I'm upset because she has time to go to the gym every day and I don't, so, I need to make time to get to the gym.

I don't know about you, but as a blogger I've had a lot of negativity come my way. Not just from the occasional internet troll, but from girlfriends who look down on blogging or scoff at it and make underhanded remarks about it not being a 'real' career or a viable source of income. Quite simply put, "Ain't nobody got time for that." If you can't support me and my chosen path, I can't support our friendship and that's not fair on either of us, so, step off, Fonzy. Hit the pavement! Get outta here! Shoo!

The impact positive relationships with other women can have on our lives is profound because women understand women. To have another woman listen to you in a time of difficulty, without judgement or fear of gossip, to have her understand and respect the gambit of emotions running through you, is invaluable. To have another woman support you and believe in you, tell you that you can achieve your dreams in life and you are beautiful and intelligent, is invaluable.

As women we have a deeply entrenched desire to put others first, heck, even when we cook dinner we give others the better-looking portions of food or the bigger share. When it comes to our friendships, it's time to put ourselves first. Enough is enough. Life's too short to waste any time or energy on negativity, be it in the form of friends, gossip or anything else you can think of. Instead, cut out all the weeds and other junk taking up space and reclaim it for something positive. Reclaim it for you.

You can find Phoebe Lee blogging at Little Grey Box

Behind The Blog Scene // Gabrielle Blair of Design Mom

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Blogging is a balancing act. Anyone that has tried to juggle work, family, partners and friends while maintaining a blog schedule knows that it's not always easy. The ideas keep coming but sometimes squeezing in that last post before bedtime just isn't a reality. I have a slight obsession with understanding how people balance time, especially busy women whom I admire and who are doing great things.  One of those women is Gabrielle Blair - the force behind the super successful blog, Design Mom and found of of Alt Summit (yes, Alt Summit).

As if those two projects weren't enough to make you stop and take notice, Gabrielle also has 6 kids and up until recently used to live in the French countryside - can this woman be any more amazing? The answer is yes and her smart, witty and insightful advice below proves why. Thanks Gabrielle for sharing your thoughts and look forward to seeing you at Alt next year...

Describe your blog in 3 words…
Design-Parenting Intersection
What is your blogging manifesto?
Hmm. I don't think I have one. Or at least, I don't think I've ever put it into words. Off the top of my head, I would say my blogging manifesto is: To bring happiness to my readers' days. To bring inspiration and learning. To bring support and kindness.
Top 3 blogging essentials?
DSLR, Photoshop, Curiosity
My biggest blogging moment/milestone was?
Having Time Magazine name Design Mom Website of the Year. A total surprise! I had no idea before they made the announcement. I learned about the recognition on Twitter.
Right now I'm listening to?
I'm on a flight and listening to the 80's channel which is playing lots of Depeche Mode.
Best piece of advice to a newbie blogger?
Just start. Publish a post, any post. Like everything, blogging takes practice. I'm 5000+ posts in and still learning.
If I wasn't blogging I'd be...
An art director in New York. In fact, that was my job before blogging. Or, I might be designing textiles — something I've always wanted to try.
Behind the scenes of my blog looks like...
Me, possibly still in my pajamas, working in a home office surrounded by ample evidence of a big, creative family (meaning: it's very messy).
In 2014 I'm most excited about...
So many things! A series I'm working on about women and style and beauty and identity — I hope to launch it in June. And Alt Summit (I'm a founder and owner) is launching some big new events. Also, a series about teaching kids cooking skills.

Blogging talent runs in the family...if you missed our interview with Gabrielle's sister, Jordan Ferney from Oh Happy Day you can check it out here.