A recent Harvard Business Journal study has been getting a lot of traction lately – and it’s something that affects many women in the tech industry! The study found that despite progress toward gender equality at work, it still takes women longer to be promoted than men.

Frustrating, I know. Standout women employees are often taken for granted by companies due to gendered beliefs about who is and who isn’t a flight risk. These gendered dynamics likely contribute to the glass ceiling and gender gaps in earnings as well. So many women feel like they have to be twice as good to get half as far as men. And based on these findings, they’re not wrong.

Companies Are Making Assumptions About Women

The study found that most companies are not worried about women leaving a firm for better opportunities. Not because they think exceptional women aren’t committed to advancing their careers, but ratherbecause it’s assumed that women will stay loyal to their firm because they value their relationships with their coworkers more than men.

Basically, exceptional men are seen as flight risks when a company hires them. Companies see men with extraordinary qualities as people who will prioritize their career advancement over loyalty to a company. While for exceptional women, it is assumed that even when passed over for promotions or hired at lower-paying positions, they are more likely to stay loyal to their company. 

Women with Exceptional Qualities Are Being Taken For Granted

Because of the biased assumptions made by companies, many exceptional women are being taken for granted.

I personally have seen this in my own career, as have many of my female peers. I’ve had to relentlessly advocate for not one but two promotions, which I ultimately got, but only after I made my case over an extended period of time. In hindsight, I should have left that company, but at the time, I had personal reasons for sticking around.

In comparison, one of my dear male friends who is also at my level (Principal Engineer / Director level) and started at the same salary as me, has made two big company moves during the same time I’ve been promoted and now earns substantially more than me.

What We Can Do About It

Knowing that women face gender biases when it comes to promotions and the hiring process, there are a few things you can do.

First, it shouldn’t be solely on women’s shoulders to fix this problem. This Harvard Business Review study found that companies think they’re doing women a favor by offering them positions they’re overqualified for.

Companies need to understand that they’re not doing us any favors by giving us lower-paying positions for which we have too much experience.

Instead, companies must stop taking women for granted and lean into advancing women and investing in our careers and futures. In the meantime, there are some essential things we as women can do, too.

Know Your Value

Understand the value you bring to your company. You will become unstoppable when you understand your importance and know your worth. You will feel more comfortable asking for that promotion because you will know that you deserve it. You’ll feel more comfortable getting outside offers to leverage when applying for new hiring positions because you’ll know the salary you deserve.

Remember that as women, we often tend to downplay our abilities, which is something that men rarely do. I wrote my book, The DevelopHer Playbook, to help combat gender inequalities in the workplace and help women know their value and stand out; you can pick up a copy here.

Find An Ally

I highly recommend finding an ally at your company. Talk to your peers. Compare your qualifications and experience with your male counterparts to determine if you qualify for a higher-ranking or higher-paying position. (Chances are – you do!) I’ve often found myself shocked when learning what my male coworkers who are in the same positions as me (or even lower positions) earn. It’s fueled my advocacy for gender equality in the workplace.

I’m launching some new material and information soon that I’m incredibly excited about to help women combat gender equalities in tech – so be sure to keep an eye out for that at DevelopHer. In the meantime, don’t let any corporation take advantage of you based on gender. Remember that knowledge is power; the more you understand your worth and what you deserve, the more successful you will be.

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