Did you watch the movie / read the book ‘The Devil Wears Prada’?
A great film with Meryl Streep playing fashion magazine editor Miranda Priestly. The film is dominated by her aggressive, dominant and humiliating treatment of her employees.
At the end of the film, her assistant (Andrea) resigned when Miranda informs her “you remind me a lot of myself when I was younger”. Whilst extreme the film does portray how some women feel when they see other alpha females climbing the ladder.
Recent research by O2 has revealed that women feel under pressure to have it all. The research studied 2000 women and found that 42% said that senior women act like alpha males in order to get ahead. Here’s what else the research uncovered:
· Women consciously change their behaviour at work
· Women are increasingly likely to hide their emotions
· More women are mirroring the behaviour of men
This is not helped by a study entitled ‘Does it Pay to be Nice?’ that found alpha women earn up to £40,000 more in their working lives.
What was even more surprising to me is something called ‘The Millennium Burnout Syndrome’ (first coined by Forbes business writer Larissa Fair in 2011). Women in the 18 – 31 age bracket are burning themselves out. These women feel under a desperate pressure to advance their careers before they can start a family. This is causing increasing number of women to opt out or be seriously stressed out.
This constant juggling act has to take its toll on working women. The perception (and reality) is that men are more likely to succeed than women. So, of course, women are going to be tempted to take on these male attitudes. And what are these male traits?
One of the biggest problems with this is that it blocks the path for other women.
Yet, we must take comfort from the changing world of work. Many more women are joining our ranks as graduates. There are more and more women present in our board rooms (thanks in part to the work of the Lord Davies report).
Many organisations such as Lloyds TSB, Morrison’s, Airbus, Ernst and Young to name a few are focused on creating healthy women pipelines of talent. And, many are seeing women bring their femininity to the workplace.
In my view, women do not and should not feel they need to act like men to get ahead. A lot of the issues I see with women is a lack of inner confidence. This confidence affects self esteem and leads to women believing they need to wear another persona.
Once women can and do feel confident about how they are then we will start to see a real and profound shift in the workplace.