Changing The Game: How Women Can Stop Underestimating Themselves In The Workplace


Our workforce has become this “great American game,” where there’s often a winner and a loser. But, it’s questionable whether the winner status is determined from skill and merit since this game has become a battle of the sexes where men have the home field advantage.

Do umpires turn their backs when a foul should have been called?

Are women working from base one to just end up passing base two and then three, thinking, “We’re getting somewhere in women empowerment,” when really, we’re going back to the home base?

A recent study published in APA’s Journal of Applied Psychology, proves otherwise.

Lead researcher, Samantha C. Paustian-Underdahl, Ph.D., of Florida International University, found that women in the workforce often underestimate themselves while men self-rate as more effective. Women, however, came out ahead of terms in effectiveness.

The “role congruity theory” is the idea that prejudices against women in leadership. It has also become a bias within the work field, considering that the stereotypical woman isn’t “supposed” to have leadership qualities.

But, many of us have progressively ditched the cooking apron and put on some cute pantsuits.

Fortune 500 compiled a list of the 500 most profitable companies in the United States. The downfall among the 500 successful industrial corporations isn’t related to strategy or financials, but rather, a lack of diversity in CEO positions.

There are only eight Latino CEOs, nine Asian CEOs and 24 female CEOs. Guess who takes the cake for the prototypical CEO? White men — 84.5 percent of the CEOs are white men.

Although it's a bit discouraging, in this new study, researchers found that women are actually rated as highly as men in terms of leadership qualities. It took a hot minute to figure this out, but we all pretty much already knew that, #amiright?

But at least now, we finally have some scientific evidence to back it up.

Researchers said that "women are typically described and expected to be more communal, relations-oriented and nurturing than men, whereas men are believed and expected to be more agentic, assertive and independent than women."

The study’s ratings also discovered that women are generally seen as more effective leaders than men in middle management, senior-level management, and business and education organizations.

But, even though women have been humble about their skills, the underestimation needs to go. Bias continues to lurk around in the workplace, but it has at least begun to diminish, little by little.

Tina Fey, comedian, author and obsession of many, advises her readers in her book, “Bossypants,” to do what they want to do and not care if people like it.

With that said, she doesn’t preach about feminism in the workplace or how we must kick men to the curb, but focuses on doing things for ourselves.

“Bossypants” shows that working hard should be the main goal on the playing field, even if the field is in a whole different ballgame.

In “Bossypants,” Fey writes,

So, my unsolicited advice to women in the workplace is this. When faced with sexism, or ageism, or lookism, or even really aggressive Buddhism, ask yourself the following question: 'Is this person in between me and what I want to do?' If the answer is no, ignore it and move on. Your energy is better used doing your work and outpacing people that way. Then, when you’re in charge, don’t hire the people who were jerky to you.

This shows that it’s almost more about the mentality to work hard rather than trying to one-up men because we should really just be working to one-up ourselves.

Injustice will always be there; we just need to put on our mitts, get our baseball bats, find a tactic and play harder at the game.

Really, it’s about us and improving policies for women, diminishing stereotypes through merit and taking on obstacles like a woman (and that is not a typo).

Photo Courtesy: USA/Suits