Press » Southtown Star

Southtown Star

How women can win at business ‘game’

article-business-game
By Kimberley Mathisen, The Star

“A woman will always have to be better than a man in any job she undertakes.”

– Eleanor Roosevelt
(1884-1962), “My Day,” Nov. 29, 1945

Nearly 60 years later, the late Mrs. Roosevelt may still make a valid point.

Despite the many employment advances made during the past several decades, women continue to earn about 76 cents for every dollar a man earns, according to Linda McCabe, president of Feminine Forum, and author of “Optimal level, A Women’s Guid to Meeting Life’s Challenges.”

In an event sponsored by the Chicago Southland Chamber of Commerce, McCabe spoke last Tuesday on “Gender Relations: Work and the Female/Male Deal,” at the Holiday Inn-Matteson Hotel & conference Center.

More than a dozen participants took part in the discussions.

McCabe, a former teacher who spent nearly 20 years working in the male-dominated scrap metal business, told those on hand that the prolems lie in the cultural diffences between the sexes.

“The way women are raised creates havoc in the workplace,” she said. “From the time we are born, boys are raised to be strong, competitive and aggressive. Girls, are encouraged to be nice, little nurturers.”

McCabe cited a University of California study that found that toddler-aged girls are carried or pushed more often than boys, who are encouraged to walk.

By the time children enter fourth grade, the lines have been drawn and boys begin dominating classroom conversations during elementary school, McCabe said.

“While the girls are praised for their non-academic skills such as penmanship, teachers criticize (and challenge) boys more often on academic matters,” she said.

Those cultural differences continue throughout a child’s academic life – through high school and college, McCabe said.

“It’s not surprising then, when women experience troubling issues at work,” she said.

“Women often find themselves in a double bind at work – acting like a man gets you labeled, (while if you) adhere to the childhood training for gender specifics, you are also labeled.

“Women like to compromise and work towards a ‘win-win’ outcome. Men are taught that competition is fun, and are encouraged to develop the ‘killer instinct,'” she said.

McCabe said that men, through their sports training, also learn that adversarial relationships are part of the game; always listen and do what the coach says; and perhaps most importantly, there is a structural hierarchy needed to advance.

“Mena are also trained to believe that once the game is over, it is over, and sometimes giving up one’s independence and individuality is better for the team,” McCabe said.

“How many of you have been told to become more of a team player?,” she asked.

Learning how men play the “game” of business can go a long way to help women understand how to deal with some of the issues that arise at the office.

“Competition is the bedrock of our system, and women must change their focus when dealing with problems,” McCabe said.

“Women need to stand thier ground – attack the problem, not the person. Don’t use words such as ‘always’ or ‘never,’ and stick to the issue at hand.

“Men need to give a little as well during these situations. One can be firm and strong without being destructive.”

Some of the additional solutions for dilemmas at the workplace included women developming a teamwork attitude and dealing with setbacks.

Women need to know that if they lose one round it is not the end of the world. Moe on and recognize that the situation is finished, she said.

Other topics provided tips and suggestions for loyalty at the workplace; working with someone you may dislike; and authority styles.

Men and women also differ in their motivational tools, McCabe said.

“Women my overdo praise, and men don’t praise enough – it’s not part of their play.

She said when relationships at the workplace are discussed, men do not care if they are liked by co-workers, but women “need to be linked.”

One of the most driving forces in the business world is the power issue, McCabe said.

Women have an aversion to power, but men find themselves hungry to attain positions that wield power, she said. “It’s impossible to lead withouth power,” she said.

After the discussion, the participants broke into small groups to discuss a variety of gender-related issues.

Jill Manning, a resident of South Holland and employee at Thornton Township, said she hoped to learn from the sessions.

Manning works with contractors and architects and deals with a lot of men on the job.

“I have never had a problem communicating with the, but sometimes feel they are uncomfortable with me” Manning said.

Gwen Russell, membership director for Olympia Fields Country Club, said the session sounded interesting.

“I deal with a lot of men, both management and members,” Russell said, noting that a better understanding is always helpful.

McCabe said a few participants were interested in Feminine Forum and she may be offering the services in Tinley Park in the near future.

More information about Feminine Forum is at (847) 419-9300 or online at www.feminineforum.com

© Sun-Times Media, LLC