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Women at Work: Un-Cementing Self-Bias

If bias did not exist today, would gender disparities still exist?

Sheryl Sandberg’s new Lean IN Circles focuses on the biases that exist today and strategies for overcoming such biases such as likability bias, performance bias, maternal bias, attribution bias, affinity bias, and double discrimination bias, and intersectionality bias. There is one bias, specific to women at work that is ignored, the bias of self..

What is Self-Bias?

Self-bias are the stories that hold women back for getting to any “yes” that they desire. If women are balancing life and work find themselves spending more time talking themselves out of opportunity rather than figuring out “how” to create equity in pay and opportunity. It’s that infinite wheel that says, “I’m not good enough to ask for what I want.” It’s like walking in cement, while it’s wet! Every step seems to get harder and harder as the cement hardens, now we’re stuck! Eventually, women concede, this is the “good enough.” Women may at times put their goals on the back burner, mostly avoiding the issue at hand for fear of failure, or loss of control, choosing the “easier route.” When women take in account all of the biases that exist today, women fail to take into account they may never be able to get to a “yes” for a promotion, “yes” for increase in pay, or even a “yes” to the perfect job, unless women think differently and take action on their own behalf, and reduce self-bias.

The “accumulation of disadvantage” creates mountains of our molehills. There is a plethora of information about how men think differently than women, yet women have failed to move the needle on the statistics over this last decade. The data shows that women who don’t “ask” for what they want could cost them close to $500,000 when they retire. Real talk. One-half of a million dollars should motivate women to “ask” for what they want, yet many women still find themselves stagnated in efforts and outcomes.

It all goes back to science.

The testosterone hormone for men keeps the flight or fight amygdala in control, which means their stories offer opportunities rather than settling for the status quo. It also tends to keep them sharp and actively looking for opportunity. Studies show the women’s primary hormone, estrogen, leads to higher flight or fight responses, higher anxiety levels, which blocks women’s ability to diagnostically think through difficult decisions at work, having difficult and tough conversations, and allows self- bias to take over the narrative. Most women are more comfortable with actions that are most often guided by fear, i.e. fear of failure and not fitting in the social schema of how women are supposed to “act” at work. When women routinely expect less of themselves, they get less than they deserve.

Are you less valuable to the company? Short answer: You probably are more valuable than some of your male counterparts. Upper management measures women on whether or not they ask for more. Women who don’t ask are seen as less valuable from the C-Suite. So, a good rule of thumb: Ask. For. What. You. Want.

Women are apathetic negotiators, less confident in how they ask, and their stories cement their actions. Time to rewrite your story, what do you say?

How can women fearlessly take action to get what they want? Here’s how you can fearlessly take direct action to get what you want and it all starts with changing beliefs, attitudes, and (of course) actions which together, will result in greater outcomes.

Un-cementing the “Yes” – Reducing Self Bias

Become a stronger link: Change your story! Change your mindset away from “this is good enough,” to a mindset of “what else can I ask for?”. Your ask defines you. If you don’t ask, you are seen as the weaker link by upper management. Most top management is still the “white male” and may blindly compare to you to the other person actively negotiating for the same role you desire and usually get what they want. If they are asking for more opportunity or pay, and you if don’t ask, they see you as being less valuable. Become the stronger link to success for the company!

Tactics for becoming a stronger link:

· Write down your ideal job and the financial impact to the company

· Devise a plan with tactical steps that include the skills necessary for the next role

· Develop an influence map of those than can help shape your next role and get your foot in the door.

Look Self-Denial in the Face: Poor self-image, fear of being uncomfortable when asking for what you want; feeling unsure and inadequate will keep you cemented right where you are. If you deny your self-bias, there is no one else to blame but yourself. Inactivity is paralyzing!

Often, we are quick to blame others for our lack of success; in the end, you have to ask for what you want. Men ask — so should you.

Tactics to unstick the stuck:

· Become self-aware of the things that create a stall in your actions.

· Answer this question for yourself: If fear was not holding you back, what would you do next?

Join a Diagnostic Thinking™ Group: This group of 6-8 women can collectively raise the testosterone level to get out of their self-deprecating stories and find strategic power in becoming the author of their career. Women, due to our make-up alone, many times fail to see our narrative in our failure and turn to the blame game when it comes to our outcomes. It’s time to take control back and find other women, not a group at work, an external group, specifically designed to form alliances that assists each other in a safe environment where the group can peel back the barriers impeding our thinking processes. It’s a safe room of exploration, formulating, finding, and creating opportunities for women at work.

Diagnostic thinking solves critical business issues that get in the way of advancement of women at work. Women who have joined a DT have experienced significantly increase pay and opportunity, and some have even written their new job description, creating their perfect job. They are driving revenue and seen as valuable by the C-Suite!

Tactics for career acceleration:

· If you find yourself stuck or stalled, find a career coach

· Look for a mentor

· For career acceleration join a Diagnostic Thinking group by calling 314-550-2477, or visit to inquire about the perfect group for you.

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