A short google search on the gender gap and the gender wage gap will give anyone countless articles on what women can do to bridge this gap which has long been perceived as something women have “caused”; the truth being quite the contrary, of course. From women not pursuing high-paying jobs to bankers saying that women arent investing their money and a myriad more reasons to put the blame on women. However, what is being called the “ambition penalty” is being seen when women actually follow the advice of such gender-gap-closing articles by career experts. Few experts actually talk about how women are seeing a backlash when they try to close the gender gap by asking for more, negotiating, and being more assertive.
Women are seen as unlikeable when they pursue their career dreams intentionally rather than when it’s handed to them randomly
Much of this backlash finds its source in the ambition of women. ‘One 2018 study found that, even at the beginning of their careers, recruiters avoid working with high-achieving women,’ reported Bloomberg. Furthermore, research from 2012 observed that when women did reach leadership positions, they were more likely to be disliked and disrespected by peers.’ On the other hand, women are being bombarded with what they must do in order to be successful, “always negotiate” being the most common offender. The burden has to close the gender gap has always been placed on women. It seems that women are seen as unlikeable when they pursue their career dreams rather than when it’s handed to them randomly. But how many times are things actually handed to women arbitrarily? Little to none. How many working women have faced a conflicting wall in their trajectory? Countless!
Mentorship programs must ask women the reasons why they are hesitating to pugs harder or negotiate rather than finding fault with them
Hence, those who mentor women need to consider what they are actually trying to tell women because navigating the professional world is akin to walking a tight rope every day and women have to be so cautious as to not appear too “masculine”. If mentors consider how women are being punished for taking good advice, they will be better prepared to support women rather than hinder them even further. Mentorship programs must ask women the reasons why they are hesitating to push harder or negotiate at work, rather than finding fault with them because, they are, well, female. Before shaming women, let’s consider the variables.
More importantly, companies need to start supporting ambitious women and women who are taking the initiative. Instead of constantly asking women to consider their working environment, it’s high time we ask companies to consider women too, don’t you think? Clearly, something needs to change at organizations if women are facing repercussions for pursuing their professional dreams. Let’s not presume the problem lies with women alone.