Women have made tremendous strides in the American workplace but there are still many challenges. Although women make up nearly half of the total workforce, only 12.3 percent are top earners and/or CEOs. This is just one of many obstacles female employees encounter that is difficult to control at an individual level. However, there is one problem that can often be controlled individually: self-limiting beliefs.
“Men are just more respected than women.” This common self-limiting belief isn’t necessarily always false. It wasn’t that long ago that U.S. society considered men as bread-winners and women homemakers. Some of the people who grew up in the time of this mindset are indeed still in the workforce. Today, however, 70 percent of households are dual income. So, it is apparent the past way of life is disappearing and new norms are being set in place. A 2008 Pew Research Center Social and Demographic Trends study stated participants surveyed found women to be more honest and intelligent than men.
“Women are more emotional than men.” Many women with any professional experience have heard this stereotype. For some time, emotions may have been seen as a negative in the business world, but many companies are starting to recognize the positives. Feelings are contagious, so positive emotions are not only beneficial for the workplace environment, they’re also profitable, because happy employees tend to be more productive. Additionally, many companies are interested in employees with emotional intelligence. An emotionally intelligent person is able to sense and interpret the emotions of those around her and use this information wisely. This is extremely helpful in a variety of ways including working with customers to close sales and resolving conflicts at the office to decrease employee turnover.
Self-limiting beliefs can become self-fulfilling prophesies that can severely affect not only your career, but also your quality of life. Therefore it is crucial that women replace these negative, destructive thoughts with positive, empowering thoughts. The first step is to identify which beliefs you are accepting. Then counteract the negativity with frequent, positive self-affirmations. If you are struggling with a self-limiting belief about your emotions, consider repeating something like this: “My positive emotions are good for my co-workers and company. I can control my emotions when I have a bad day and will continue to make smart decisions.”
In the event you find yourself in an environment filled with negative beliefs, there are several proactive things you can do. Discuss your concerns with your supervisor but be sure to focus on the solutions more than the problems. Research and suggest activities and training that can educate your office. Also, find and emphasize examples that show the contrary of the negative assumption. Consider how your office can recognize and display these examples in a meaningful way. If over time steps like these don’t work, you may need to find other women who feel the same way, and, together, approach higher management with your concerns and ideas.
Sydney Neely has worked in the education arena for more than 10 years, teaching general education, the arts, communication and finance. She holds Bachelor of Arts and Master of Education degrees from Arizona State University. Neely also holds several state and federal financial licenses in life insurance and investments (Series 6 and 63).