Damned and doomed – gender blow back

by | Mar 22, 2016

How often do you experience gender blow back?

Gender blow back occurs when women exhibit behaviour that is not associated with female stereotypes. "Sugar and spice and all things nice" or so the nursery rhyme goes. But what happens when women toughen up and play hard or even medium ball? They are penalised.

Examples of gender blow back

Gender blow back manifests itself in many different ways. It can happen in salary negotiation, requests for greater responsibility or even when making a point that contradicts another person. An assertive behaviour is labelled aggressive or emotional.  3Plus published an interesting OPINION piece. It centred on Marissa Meyer’s two week maternity leave. One comment stood out.

“Or more worryingly, does it show another element of gender blowback, that Meyer has to prove she is super human to get the same recognition and respect as her male counterparts.”

Corporate experience

Yvette is a Commercial Director  and when she tried to negotiate her salary in line with her male peers, she encountered a negative attitude from both men and women involved in the process. "It's as though I should volunteer to work for a lower fee" she said. "When I laid out other very normal professional conditions, one HR Manager, a woman, called me "exegeante." That is French for "demanding."

The 20% gender pay gap is widely reported. Yet very little is done about it and when women try to take matters into their own hands, they meet resistance. [Tweet "One woman recounted being cut down in meetings when she offered a dissenting view."]

Freelance sector

Many women leave corporate life to escape this scenario and think they will be in charge of their own destinies. Yet the reverse is true and  flexibility turns out to be a false friend, with women reporting a 30% differential in freelance earnings.

Reports of clients applying punitive conditions to women contractors, are widespread. One consultant told me that a client wanted her to deliver services over a period of a six months. With their usual 30-60 days payment policy she wouldn’t see payment until the end of the 7 month, after the first piece of work was delivered. She politely declined. The reaction was that she was being unreasonable. Would they have proposed those terms to a male supplier? She don’t think so.

So women have to step up and hone their negotiation skills and develop resilience. There is some suggestion that women give up too easily and male freelancers say that they are even driving rates down.

If you need support to achieve this contact 3Plus.

Staff Writer: Career Contributor
3Plus welcomes any writers to join 3Plus as a Staff Writer. If you are an expert in Job Search, Career and Mentoring or just want to share your experiences, contact us! We would love to give you a voice!

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