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Insights: How to Deal with Gender Issues at Work

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Ask the Expert! Through WISE Insights, Connect with knowledgeable experts to receive honest and thoughtful answers to your career-related questions, or read about challenges your peers are facing.

Question

Submitted by: WISE Los Angeles member | 6-15 years professional experience

I work for a boss who favors men and will not give me the opportunities needed to advance in my career, even though I have taken the initiative to ask for them. How can I better position myself for advancement and work around the gender issue?

Answer

You didn’t mention whether your boss is male or female. Some people just aren’t good at working with the opposite sex — whether it is men working with women or vice versa. Some have had bad experiences working with the opposite sex and then extend that experience to every female (assuming your boss is male in this case) they come across.

If you believe there is obvious discrimination (i.e., you are being left out of meetings, left off emails, or not being given all the information you need to do your job) because of your gender, then you may want to speak with HR. If that isn’t the reason, then what you need to do is simply be professional, do your job and don’t overreact. (Bursting into tears in the office when things get difficult is a surefire way to turn men off at work and have them pigeonhole you even more).

Get advice from a trusted co-worker outside the team to make sure you’re not doing something you’re unaware of to make your boss pass you over. If you feel comfortable talking to your boss, then ask him/her what you need to do specifically to progress. Sometimes, though, the reality can be that there is nothing you can do and at that point you need to decide if it’s time to move on.

Jane Hollman

About Jane Hollman

Jane Hollman has more than 25 years experience in senior human resources roles at large multinationals and sports across Asia Pacific and the United States. Currently a career coach, she helps business leaders and university students think through their career paths. Hollman is passionate about creating flexible, innovative work places and mentors women looking to start their own businesses. She is also a freelance writer covering the business of sports for publications such as Women Talking Sports.

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