During our chat, Michelle spoke about the challenges of gender equality in the workplace, diversity and inclusion in tech and "fixing workplaces, not women", a concept she explores in her book, The Fix.
“We find that women’s confidence in the workplace drops by more than 60% in the first three years of their careers. It drops because women don’t have that sense that the organization is going to work for them like it does for men. The one thing you want to remember is that it’s not you, you can put ‘Lean In’ down, because workplaces discriminate.”
Michelle told us about how when researching her book, she discovered that organisations are hardwired for the ‘Don Draper’ ideal and the more you differ from this ideal, the more barriers you will experience in the workplace.
She went on to explain how many current gender equality initiatives are therefore lacking because they focus on trying to ‘fix’ or change women to fit into an outdated ideal, one which no longer serves the modern workforce of tech and innovation.
One of the major parts of Michelle’s studies has been how gender equality initiatives are also failing men, as she discusses the ‘gender norms’ of how men and women should behave and how this limits their experience in the workplace.
Using examples from her past experiences, Michelle went on to encourage people to become more aware of the barriers facing minorities and to pay attention to how this shows up in the workplace, for yourself and for your colleagues.
“Women are way better at negotiating for their peers than for themselves. If you’re preparing to negotiate for anything where you have to advocate for yourself, sit your trusted friend or colleague down and say, ‘I want you to negotiate my salary for me with me.’ Studies show that it’s really effective to have peers advocate for you. I think it really helps women to see themselves in their peers’ eyes, to see how capable they are. Sometimes we lose sight of that because of the work environments we work in. Going at it alone, we’ve done that for too long. That’s not the way we’re going to get there. We have to be allies to one another.”
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