Be a Successful Business Woman
Research women in your field.
No matter what field you’re in, there are sure to be successful women who’ve paved the way for others. Finding out about successful women in your particular field will give you a better idea of what a typical career path might look like and highlight some practical steps you can take to become successful.
- Research what schools the women in your field went to, what internships they did, whether they worked abroad, where they got their first job, and any other information regarding their career path.
- Figure out what these women did right, then use that knowledge to work out a career plan of your own.
Consider a field with fewer women in it. Historically, women have been underrepresented in fields such as science, engineering, technology, mathematics and computer science. By pursuing a career in one of these areas, a woman may benefit from certain incentives designed to encourage more women to enter these fields, such as scholarship programs and grants.
Determine how to balance work and family. Perhaps the greatest concern for women in the workforce is how to balance work and family life. Women are usually in their key childbearing years while simultaneously trying to advance their career and climb the corporate ladder.
- Surveys have shown that most women leave their jobs due to caretaking conflicts or workplace climates which are hostile to the demands of parenthood.
- The best way to ensure a balance between work and family is to find a company which offers a combination of parent-friendly policies such as paid maternity leave, company-sponsored childcare, flexible scheduling, family healthcare benefits and paternity leave.
Overcome pay inequality. Despite making fantastic progress in terms of the number of women in the workforce and the proportion of those who go on to reach managerial and executive positions, there is still a long way to go, especially when it comes to equal pay. The frustrating truth is that women earn significantly less than men, for the same work. Although factors such as education or the decision to have a child can affect pay levels, the main problem is that women consistently undervalue themselves and fail to effectively negotiate with employers for higher salaries. In order to overcome pay inequality, you should:
- Do your homework. Find out what other people (men and women), with the same qualifications and in similar positions, are earning.
- Learn how to negotiate. Once you know your value, you should work on selling your qualifications, skills and achievements. Never undersell yourself. Don’t offer a salary figure first, and provide a salary range if you are pressed about it.
- Never say yes to an offer immediately. Think of the first number they provide as an “initial offer” and continue to negotiate if you feel you are being undervalued.
- Realize that you are entitled to ask for a raise. If you are already in a job where you feel that your contributions are undervalued, or you find out that a colleague is being paid more for the same work, don’t be afraid to ask for a raise. Just be sure to build a convincing case: do your homework and find out the salary range for similar roles both within and outside the company. Be prepared to talk about your positive contributions to the company including any recent successes or problems you have solved. Highlight any positive feedback you have received from others on your team.