Navigating Management While Female

At the beginning of this year I was promoted to a management position at the Waterloo tech company where I work. I am one of just a few women in management positions and the only one in my department, meaning more often than not I am the only woman sitting around the boardroom table. I know I’m not the only woman in this situation, since women hold just under 35% of Canadian management positions.

woman_leaderatwork_socialmedia.pngI enjoy my job, and my fellow managers are talented, respectful people — so I’m doing better than many women in my position. But there are a few struggles I’ve been experiencing since stepping into this new role that are solely to do with my gender.

Pressure

Being my department’s only female manager, I basically feel like I’m representing all of womankind. An exaggeration, yes — but I do feel like I need to do a practically perfect job, lest it reflect poorly on all women and impact the next woman’s chances of being promoted.

Logically, I know that in promoting me the company wasn’t gambling on a woman; they were putting the most qualified and experienced person they had into a role that needed filling. But knowing and feeling are very different things, and I nevertheless feel an incredible pressure to prove my ability and competence, a pressure my (white) male coworkers can’t possibly feel in the same way.

Friendship

I value workplace friendships, and when the people I worked with most closely with were peers and predominantly women, they came fairly easily. Now, the people I work with most closely are my direct reports — who I’m told I shouldn’t be too chummy with — and my fellow, all male, managers.

Suddenly, it’s more difficult to make a connection. Whereas previously I bonded with coworkers over a glass of wine, it feels wrong to ask my married male colleagues out for a drink after work. I fear miscommunication, awkwardness, and being perceived as unprofessional.

Doubt

At a meeting when an idea gets shot down, a suggestion is ignored, or I’m interrupted, I can’t help but wonder... Was my suggestion really not helpful? Or was it simply because I’m a woman and my colleagues’ unconscious bias tells them I don’t bring much value to the table? I try not to dwell on this thought but it’s always in the back of my mind, because how can I know for sure?

So what’s a #girlboss to do? Seriously — I would love some advice from those of you who’ve been where I am.

Tweet: Pressure, friendship, and doubt, oh my! Navigating management. @Best_Amanda https://ctt.ec/f3UK8+ via @WomensMarchCDA

In the meantime I’m going to start attending my local Lean In events and continue with the management training my company has been sending me to. And perhaps most importantly, take a deep breath. I got this… right?

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  • commented 2017-10-01 21:34:57 -0400
    Thank you for sharing, Amanda! Great discussion start!