It is naïve to think that gender bias is no longer an issue in the workplace. In fact, we ALL have stereotypes that we carry with us to work, and women often face the frustration of being at a disadvantage based on assumptions that have nothing to do with our actual ability to do a given job. So, how do we overcome these biases to achieve at a high level?
Andie Kramer is an accomplished attorney, author and advocate for women in the workplace. Kramer served as founding chair of her law firm’s gender diversity committee and cofounded the Women’s Leadership and Mentoring Alliance to address the limited mentorship opportunities for young executive and professional women. A recognized authority in the realm of gender communication and women’s advancement, Kramer was named one of the 50 Most Influential Women Lawyers in America. She is also the coauthor of Breaking Through Bias: Communication Techniques for Women to Succeed at Work and the forthcoming It’s Not You, It’s the Workplace: Women’s Conflict at Work and the Bias that Built It.
Today, Kramer shares her approach to addressing biases and stereotypes in the workplace. She explains why the first step in breaking through bias involves a conversation with yourself and offers insight around the impact of nonverbal communication and language patterns in your communication with others. Listen in for Kramer’s take on why women hold C-suite female colleagues to a different standard than senior men in the organization and learn how to navigate the assumptions and gender biases we all bring to work.
Key Interview Takeaways
When facing stereotypes and biases in the workplace, avoid confrontation—but allow people to learn. Kramer suggests addressing such assumptions with humor when possible and discussing truly inappropriate behavior in private.
The first step in breaking through bias involves a conversation with yourself. Women must think through strategies for developing a coping sense of humor, demonstrating confidence and competence, and learning not to take the world too seriously.
Pay attention to nonverbal communication as well as language patterns. Women tend to preface our thoughts with phrases like I’m sorry or This may be a dumb idea, but… Kramer argues that such language patterns diminish the power of the statement that follows.
Women tend to hold C-suite female colleagues to a different standard than senior men in an organization. We perceive female colleagues as cold or unfeeling, even when they are treating us the same way the men treat us. Kramer believes that gendered workplaces and our own biases about how women should act contribute to this phenomenon.
Develop the strength to address being interrupted. The assumption that women won’t add value means that we’re often talked over in meetings and on conference calls. Kramer recommends diplomatically saying, “Allow me to finish my point, and I’ll pass it over to you when I’m finished.”
Connect with Andie Kramer