In many parts of the world, women’s voices are suppressed. In our western culture, in particular in the U.S. corporate world, women’s voices are not “suppressed.” But they are often not fully heard. Why not? Let me suggest four challenges, with the hope that awareness can help us better hear women’s voices right here in the USA. The feminine style of speech sounds less confident. Women assert themselves only when they really know. Women get “talked over.” And women who do speak up face the “double bind.”
Joanne Lipman’s recent article in the WSJ provides a “guide” for men to women at work. She says that women get enough advice and provides some to men. Men should understand that women have a different way of speaking; they should not wait for women to raise their hands; they should not fear that a woman will cry and should give direct feedback. And they should recognize that women work hard for the credibility that comes automatically to them. Good advice!
What challenges face women in building the kind of business relationships that can lead to selling their professional services? Lots of business relationships are built at ballgames and on the golf course. Men are generally more likely to enjoy both. Some women feel golf is critical. Others are happy to find other ways to develop business.
What issues are different for women in building the business relationships necessary to sell personal services to men? Baby Boomer women are uncomfortable asking a man out for dinner or drinks because of the risk of sexual innuendo. Millennial women seem more comfortable doing so with men of their own generation – but not with older men.