If you’re a businesswoman, you know all too well that there are unwritten rules and policies that keep you from achieving all that you’re capable of. It’s called the business patriarchy. But if we educate ourselves on how to identify it, address it, and fix it, we can dismantle this unjust system and replace it with a much more inclusive one. Below, I’ve listed three tips for subverting the business patriarchy.
1. Turn Your Oppression into Opportunity
The words “oppression” and “opportunity” don’t normally go hand-in-hand—unless you’re Barbara Corcoran, that is.
The Shark Tank investor believes that being a businesswoman in a man’s world is a “huge advantage,” as it allows female entrepreneurs to exploit men’s weaknesses. In a controversial tweet, Corcoran admitted that part of her business strategy involves wearing bright colors and hiking up her skirt to “get attention.”
In response, much of the public reacted with outrage. But truth be told, the anger should be with men, since her strategy would never work if it weren’t for their sexist motives.
2. Ask for a Raise
According to AAUW, in 2016, women in the U.S. earned an average of 80 percent of what men earned. That’s a pay gap of 20 percent!
Research suggests that part of the gender pay gap can be attributed to the fact that women don’t ask for raises. In one study in particular, men were nine times more likely than their female counterparts to ask for more money.
In today’s economy, women can no longer afford to wait for change. We must be the change by demanding better compensation.
But before you ask for a raise, make sure you’re prepared. Your boss may ask why you think you deserve of a pay increase, which is why you should have a list of noteworthy accomplishments available on hand. Remember: it won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
3. Support Your Female Colleagues
When it comes to subverting the business patriarchy, other women are your greatest allies. That’s why it’s vital that you support your female colleagues in any way that you can.
One of the best ways you can do this is by recognizing your coworkers’ accomplishments or suggestions. During a business meeting, for example, you might say something along the lines of, “Susan, I really like the idea you came up with in regards to reaching out to community organizations.” This prevents a male colleague from stealing Susan’s idea and taking credit for it—an all too common occurrence in the business sphere.
Part of the reason the patriarchy has persisted so long is because it operates on a “divide and conquer” strategy. Men love to pit women against each other. But we are not each other’s enemy.
The real enemy is the institutionalized sexism that prevents us from achieving socio-economic equality. That’s why if we ever want to create a more just and equitable society for the future generations, we’ll have to stick together. That might mean having your co-worker’s back when she claims that she’s been sexually harassed, or it might mean calling out a male colleague for mansplaining.
There is strength in numbers, and if we can form an alliance with one another, we’ll have a much better chance at smashing the patriarchy once and for all.