Encouraging True Gender Equality Rather than Professional Entitlement
Gender equality is prevailing topic of conversation in any industry, but it is especially prevalent among science, technology, engineering and mathematics careers.
Studies show the STEM industry in particularly is woefully unbalanced. Women comprise 57% of the U.S. workforce, but only 26% of professional computing careers. Similarly, 57% of bachelor’s degrees are achieved by women, but only 18% of computer information science degrees are sought by women.
To rectify these discrepancies, many advocate for grater gender equality in education and the workforce. However, in order to generate long-term results, it is essential to understand the difference between equality and entitlement.
Celebrating Women’s Equality
Every year since 1972, U.S. presidents have proclaimed August 26 as Women’s Equality Day.
It’s admirable for gender equality proponents to carry this celebration over to the workplace, but it is important to note the origins of the holiday, as they can help guide us in our efforts to encourage and promote females today.
Women’s Equality Day is proclaimed each year to commemorate August 26, 1920—the day women were granted the right to vote.
The Joint Resolution of Congress states:
Females should not be thought of as lower-class citizens simply because of their gender; however, women should not feel entitled to equality if they aren’t, in all other respects, contributing equal skills, abilities, and value.
Promoting Equality, Not Entitlement
As trusted and authoritative leaders, we must encourage women to advocate for genuine equality, not act out of a sense of entitlement.
At our companies, we believe that people should be paid according to the value they add to an organization, not what their gender dictates they’re entitled to. As an employer, we’re happy to pay people more, as long as those employees can demonstrate that they’ve increased the company’s value proportional to the increase in wages.
Therefore, if a woman wants higher pay, she should demonstrate that she has added value to the company. Demanding a raise simply because she’s entitled to the same paycheck as a man could only be considered gender equality if value added is likewise equal.
The top earners in a company should be the ones doing the most to drive the organization’s success. These individuals—regardless of gender—make a habit of continuing to raise the bar for themselves. The higher they raise the bar, the higher their value rises. This creates a feedback loop as their performance, their pay, and their self-worth all increase proportionately.
Set Goals to Achieve Success
Demonstrating your value takes confidence—a character trait women often lack in the workplace.
To create confidence, women need to set goals and then surpass them. This process helps women gain esteem through performance and production, ultimately instilling a genuine sense of self-worth. Self-worth, confidence, and equality go hand-in-hand because self-worth is something you’ve earned—no one can take it away.
To achieve equality in the workplace, women need to set goals that will help them add more value to their organization.
- Wake up early and get a head start. Being the early bird shows that you are willing to take the initiative and make sacrifices for the team.
- Study hard. You should always be learning and developing your skill set.
- Be professional. Remember to be consciousness of the example you set at all times, and demonstrate why you deserve to be taken seriously.
- Stand out in the crowd. Being the most popular does not necessarily translate to being the most successful, and it’s the individuals who make an impression that will find the most success.
- Don’t watch the clock. Your boss is probably staying late, so why are you leaving so soon?
- Be 100% dependable. Never shirk from your responsibilities—when you say you will do something, make that assurance a guarantee.
- Say yes. Have you ever noticed the busiest person is always the first that people turn to when something needs to be done? Stop thinking about how much you can’t do and start thinking about how to accomplish it all.
- Reorganize yourself. If you get overwhelmed, don’t back down. Instead, reevaluate and look for fresh solutions.
- Be super-efficient. Turn your productivity into a science, and maximize the value of each minute.
- Don’t talk badly about others. Remember when your parents used to say, “If you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all?” As an adult, badmouthing people is considered highly unprofessional.
- Be positive. Pessimism and cynicism do not entice people to have confidence in you. In fact, it does the exact opposite.
- Grow thick skin. You will have to take every ounce of criticism and turn it into improvement. That means you can’t be the kind of person to crumble under a little bit of pressure.
- Don’t give excuses. No one’s interested in a good excuse. People don’t care why you let them down, they are more interested in hearing what you’re going to do to make it right.
- Be humble. There is a difference between being confident and being cocky. Rather than brandishing your accomplishments, your work should be able to speak for itself.
- Lift others up. The best way to ensure your own success is to help other members of your team succeed first.
- Set your own goals. Don’t wait for others to give you direction. Instead, own each challenge, set a goal, and achieve it.
These principles will not only build confidence, but they will also increase your overall value as an employee and solidify success.
Replacing Professional Entitlement with True Gender Equality
If you’ve been operating under the guise of entitlement rather than equality, it’s time to audit your actions, behaviors, and philosophies. The primary goal of gender equality needs to be building confidence through self-worth to receive recognition for valuable contributions.
How are you helping promote gender equality?