Continued from Part 1.
Our experience is formed by how we interpret the world. We look through a lens and decide that these are things that affect my happiness and quality of life at work. The survey measures how people are experiencing their world through their framework. “People know everything about what they do,” Karen explained. “We just can’t tell you.”
“I can’t count how many women have told me, ‘I left for my kids,'” Karen continued. “It was never for the kids. It was just a good excuse.” She related a story of a woman who said, “I left work to be with my daughter. I had grown so bored with everything we were doing. The work was mundane and routine, there was never going to be any advancement … oh, wait, I didn’t really leave for my daughter, did I?” “No!” Karen agreed.
Women need a psychological sense of community. Karen calls this the “Push” (being thrown into the ring) and the “Support” (encouraging and aiding you once you’re there). The most important thing for women is a tightly-knit cohesive team. I remember identifying this as one of my key requirements when working with a career counselor. This could also explain why book series such as “The Baby-Sitters Club” by Ann M. Martin and “Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants” by Ann Brashares have held such staying power with adolescent girls. The central theme of these books is the unity between 4 or more girls and the way they help each other overcome difficulties and accomplish goals. The female need for a tightly-knit cohesive team seems to manifest itself at a young age.
“When women feel a part of things, they stand,” Karen stated. “Men feel the same way; however, they’re already a part of things. Since this need has already been met, it is not as evident in men.”
What do people need to feel successful? Everyone know the rules of engagement, i.e. how to be part of a team. Yet, Karen is asked, “How do you walk into a room full of guys?” What this question is really saying is, “I don’t know how to be a part of it.” Karen’s team conducted a poll on what women need to feel successful. These were the results:
- I’m learning – 74.7%
- Stimulating work – 71.5%
- Influential projects – 58.9%
- Solving social issues – 21.5%
These results show that the project needs to be compelling, not socially relevant. “Women want challenge. They want to be interested,” Karen re-iterated. “They don’t need anything special!”
We returned to the Push and Support. Women must find their set of managers and colleagues. “If women are thrown into a challenge, they will rise … if they have support,” Karen explained. “Everyone is tossed into the ring at some point. Some women throw themselves into the ring. Some women do better if the Push comes from parents or spouses.” In addition to being pushed, women need someone to talk to when the going gets rough. The “Push” and “Support” can be different sets of people.
To be continued …