How can a woman in tech assert herself and her knowledge/contributions without being labeled negatively by male co-workers? originally appeared on Quora: the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
How can a woman in tech assert herself without being labeled negatively by male co-workers?
I like to think about this more "globally" in terms of how best can we all contribute and be persuasive independent of the specifics of the work environment, etc.
First, the most important thing is to be good at your job - full stop. So find a job you love and are naturally suited to be good at. Then work hard and be diligent. If you are good at your job, you will more naturally have solid contributions to make in these situations.
Second, quiet that inner voice that tells you what you want to say may be stupid, uninteresting, inappropriate etc. I find that if you channel that energy into listening and learning (versus self doubt), you will follow the conversation better, and more easily and naturally have something positive to contribute.
Third, be yourself - it is easier and takes less energy than trying to be something you are not. Authenticity is just better. Don't talk just to be talking, don't grand stand, don't assume certain traits or styles that you may have thought would work better. Instead, focus on making your style work for you, "leaning in" when you have something to contribute, and listening and learning when you don't.
Fourth, have reasonable expectations and be forgiving of mistakes. No-one is perfect and some situations are more difficult than others. If you are two days into a new job and find yourself in your first board meeting, don't beat yourself up if you weren't able to add to the conversation. If you say something that falls flat, learn from it, shake it off and move on.
And finally, some audiences are just going to be bad. That is ok and not your problem. When I have been in situations where I have felt discounted or marginalized, my mantra has been, "prove them wrong." And this brings me back to number one above because the best way to prove them wrong is to be amazing at your job!
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