Clever Decision Making

We’re looking forward to our next event, “Clever Decision Making”, which is taking place next Tuesday 27th October in London. Ahead of the event, we surveyed the female technologists that signed up, about their thoughts on decision making in the workplace. Here are some of the findings:

• 55% of women thought that they influenced their manager’s decision making well or really well. However many also cited convincing and influencing management as their biggest challenge with regards to decision making in the workplace.
• The majority (88%) enjoy making decisions and being responsible for them
• When asked about their main difficulties with decision making, another common answer was having the confidence that their decision was the right one, and making this decision quickly and effectively.
• 52% said individual judgement was more important than company policy when making a final decision

As always, we got some great comments too. A few of them are below:

• “I do often find it difficult, after weighing up the positives and negatives of each, to feel confident about the decision I’ve made and always wonder ‘what if?’ with the other options – I’d like to be less hesitant.”
• “I have to know everything before I am comfortable making a decision”
• [Challenge is] finding the key decision maker – getting them to say ‘yes’ and once they say ‘yes’ getting the follow up and key steps committed.
• “it is one of the biggest challenges in decision making – not getting swayed by the person that is better at putting his / her point across.

It’s great to see that the majority of the women we surveyed feel positively about something that so many people struggle with. What is really interesting is how many of the respondents commented that they wanted to make sure they had all the information and had considered all options before they made a final decision. This is a prime example of how women are less prone to taking risks than men, another reason why a gender balance is so vital to a successful team.

“Clever Decision Making”, which we’re co-hosting with Bank of America, will be held at the Merrill Lynch Financial Centre in London on 27th October. The keynote speaker is Julia Thrul, Founder of V.G.L. Ltd and there will also be a panel Q&A and networking session. It promises to be a great event so book your place now here! Hope to see you there.

Women vs women

It has certainly been a busy week when it comes to female related news. So many things have caught my eye that I have wanted to blog about, I don’t know where to start. So I’ll start at the beginning!

I saw this article in HR magazine saying that over a third of young female employees suffer from bullying at work. This abuse ranges from excessive monitoring to insulting remarks and two thirds of the women affected said the bullying came from more senior women. At first I found this shocking, but then I recalled some quotes we’ve had over the years from women who have faced problems, not from their male managers, but from female colleagues, and realised that maybe the problem of women vs women is more prevalent than we thought. So I pulled out some quotes from female technologists that we have surveyed over the last couple of years that have touched on this issue:

  • “The biggest obstacles that I have had to face have all come from women, not men. Some women see it as their solemn duty to bully, bribe, undermine, tease and generally obstruct in any way possible a woman who chooses a technical career. This starts in junior school and continues all the way to the boardroom! We need action to re-educate the ignorant section of the female population that it is not a threat to their femininity if some girls choose this career path.”
  • “As an ambitious single woman in a technology company, I sometimes get frustrated by the extent to which some working mothers are carried by their peers.”
  • “Female managers who do not have family are often ‘worse’ than men towards the needs of mothers.”
  • “Most women senior managers have come up the ranks making enormous personal sacrifices and see no reason why the rest of the female population cannot do the same.”
  • “[Men and women’s leadership] styles differ totally! Generally much easier to work for a man!”

Of course there are lots of women that have faced problems from male colleagues too, especially in IT as it’s such a male dominated field. But it struck me how many women were working against each other, when in fact female solidarity is crucial if we want to work together and break the glass ceiling. We need more positive female role models, encouraging women and helping them, not providing yet another obstacle.

Have you experienced a tough time from a female manager? Share your experiences – and your words of encouragement – here!

Women of the board

As we reported back in August, some research was released showing that having women on the board could have a negative effect on the bottom line. The survey of 2000 companies in the USA showed a correlation between firms with more female board members and lower profitability and lower market value.

But a report launched today is entitled “women improve boardroom effectiveness” – it’s amazing how different research on the same subject can come up with such conflicting results! Boardroom consultancy IDDAS interviewed a fifth of women on boards of FTSE 100 companies to quiz them about their success.

The report’s findings are not too surprising and highlight all the main attributes of successful women that I would expect – that women are good at teamwork, non-confrontational, less ego-driven and so rare at this level that they excel under the spotlight. It also said that characteristics of successful women directors include energy, courage, resilience and social intelligence.

It’s nice to see some more positive research – it seems like we’ve had our fair share of negative PR lately! I think that other qualities it’s important for successful women to have are confidence, political savvy, strong negotiation skills and the ability to network. From your experiences, do you agree? For some top tips on political savvy you can see our white paper – just click here.

Be politically savvy and smash the glass ceiling

We all know about the glass ceiling and all the challenges that women can face in the workplace. And we all know that there are a lot of things in politics, business and society that need to change to break down these obstacles. But let’s face it – these are big issues! And they’re not going to change overnight.

So, the question is: what can we do to help ourselves climb the career ladder?

This is just one of the questions that W-Tech aimed to answer. One workshop aimed to help attendees by informing them how to become more politically savvy – ran by Michelle Brailsford from Jupiter Consulting Group, the workshop gave a useful insight into how to become more of a political ‘animal’. 

A survey that womenintechnology carried out last year showed that 77% of female technologists didn’t feel that they had the sufficient skills to manage politics effectively in the office – with over half saying they’d been a victim of sabotage or labelling. Handling office politics is obviously a big issue for female professionals, so we’ve put together a white paper based on Michelle’s presentation which will hopefully be of use! To get your hands on a free copy, just click here.

The office playground

Remember those school bullies in the playground? Well, it seems that they’re not just confined to the school gates. They’re rife in the workplace too.

As reported in the Times the Andrea Adams Trust, a charity that fights against bullying at work, is receiving more phone calls for help with the issue. And not just a few more – the number is estimated to have doubled since the recession hit. The charity says that many of the callers don’t want to raise the issue at work as they’re scared that they could lose their job, which no-one wants to do given the current climate.

Although the majority of bullies are men, according to a recent article in the New York Times, female bullies target other women 70% of the time.

I can’t say that I am really surprised by this. The female race can be a bitchy one at times and instead of adopting some female solidarity, this is often directed at other women. And with the male dominated business culture, there are some women that adopt an aggressive manner to get to the top. But this brings up a different point, as highlighted by Sharon Mavin, associate dean at Newcastle Business School: “Is it bullying or is it just a woman not meeting another woman’s expectations? Women react to men bosses as bosses but react to women bosses as women.”

Our own research in conjunction with Microsoft brought up some interesting and polarised views from women in the IT sector:

  • “Assertiveness in a woman is too often regarded as hostility or aggression, so it is a fine line.”
  • “Maybe because my team manager is a woman, who has had children, she is sympathetic of the need to balance work with family.”
  • “The rest of the people on the staff have to put up with [mothers] being focused on children, not their work.”
  • “As an ambitious single woman in a technology company, I sometimes get frustrated by the extent to which some working mothers are carried by their peers”

With many women struggling with making it to the top, especially whilst juggling family commitments, it’s essential that women support each other in the workplace. Handling office politics and working in male teams can be challenging – these are just some of the issues we’re addressing at W-Tech next week.