Women in IT: how we behave and how we are perceived

Recently I had several occasions when I would start to think: is it a gender thing? Should the way I am perceived be attributed to the fact, that I am a female? Is it “a Sheryl Sandberg thing”?

Because, see, on one hand we are being told: be bold about your achievements, talk to your manager, say that you need a raise. And at the same time, nobody can argue Sandberg’s quote about “when a man is seen as a strong leader, a woman is seen as a bitch”. So… yea, quite often it happens, that women are encouraged to talk about themselves and their achievements… until they actually do start talking!

On the other hand… It’s very easy to start feeling you’ve being discriminated. Very easy to dismiss all the constructive criticism you receive from your coworkers as “this is just a gender thing, this is just because I am a female”. Because sometimes we actually can be rude and inconsiderate.

When I talk to people about different anti-discrimination acts, like when I talk about the Pride parades or affirmative actions, I always say: this is a pendulum effect. You need to twist things the opposite way to make sure they eventually come to balance.

But – not always. What I am saying, it’s not always a pendulum effect. Sometimes a person can actually be too loud, too judgmental, too much “being sure she’s always right”. There is never a one and true recipe of how to balance it all correctly. I often get upset, when I receive negative feedback, but I tough myself to suppress this immediate reaction and try to think objectively. Even if there is a “Sheryl Sandberg thing”, is there anything I can actually correct in my behavior?

One important thing I’ve recently realized is this: a couple of years ago I could joke about “my way is the right way” or “if it’s not for me, it’s not important”, and people would take it as a joke. But when you are in a leadership position, you can’t joke like this anymore. People will take it literally, and it will be too late to say: I didn’t really mean this! Ana I still have a lot of learning to do…

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2 Comments

Filed under People, Team and teamwork, Workplace

2 responses to “Women in IT: how we behave and how we are perceived

  1. One thing we coach at my work is to always find something useful in feedback. Even if the feedback is not very constructive, or you think the person is wrong, try to understand how the person giving you the feedback came to this conclusion, and use it as an opportunity for growth.

    So, even though there is a right way to give feedback and a wrong way, ALL feedback is useful.

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