Selling is a great job for women. Your numbers, not your gender, determine your success. Still, women in sales face different situations than men. Often the situations, like gender stereotypes, are trying. It’s good to be aware of those situations that stereotype based on gender so you can be prepared or even better, avoid them.
Gender Stereotypes: Get ready to deal with mansplaining.
Not every male mansplains. Here’s a good working definition of mansplaining: the explanation of something by a man, typically to a woman, in a manner regarded as condescending or patronizing. I recently experienced this mansplaining.
I was working on an important presentation with a group. No one volunteered to put the slides together so I volunteered. We agreed on the basic strategy. I developed the slides. We held a meeting to present and critique the slides.
One male commented even before I presented, “There are too many slides.” I’m an international presenter and know how to use visuals to communicate. Eye chart slides are not part of my presentations. My mostly visual slides were one concept per slide and all totaled the time was 10 minutes, hardly too long. I simply said, “Can you wait until after the presentation to critique it?” How can someone gauge the time without even seeing the presentation?
But, even after the presentation, 10 minutes was too long for him because his objective for the program was different than mine. I tried to explain what I was trying to do. The discussion could have been that his objective might be more effective than mine. Instead, he said, “You’re just too emotionally tied to your slides.” Say what? A man is mansplaining any time a man talks to a woman about her emotions. His voice, by the way, was loud and arrogant. Classic mansplaining.
I replied in a calm voice, “I’m not tied to these slides. I’m trying to select the best slides for our objective in this presentation. Let’s discuss that. Where would you start?” The conversation got back on track. The hardest thing to do is to speak calmly when you’re being talked down to, but you must.
Taking credit for your ideas is another gender stereotype.
Beware of those men who mansplain. They’re the ones who are more likely to take credit for your ideas. I truly believe that many men do this unconsciously. They just can’t believe a woman could come up with a good negotiation strategy, a creative idea or a more profitable product. You’ll simply hear the speaker mention a male name with the idea that you suggested.
What can you do? You can choose to ignore it. Yes, you do pick your battles in business. Or you can simply say, “When I said, ‘idea credited to someone else’ this is what I meant or “This is how I want it applied.” You are simply indirectly correcting unemotionally a wrong statement.
Working with stereotypes based on appearance.
Gender stereotypes happen everywhere. One woman was working as a volunteer along with a man. They were visiting a vendor after work hours. She is a Senior Vice President for a major corporation. He said to her (again condescendingly), “Well you sure look casual.” Would he say that to a man? Of course not. Women do have to pay attention to their dress all the time because men judge their importance based on how they look and dress. Younger workers tend not to be fooled this way as so many casual clothes can be very expensive. This man was older and certainly influenced by appearance.
Ladies, keep your eyes and ears open and ready to address any unacceptable gender stereotype. This behavior is out there and it’s just a matter of time before you experience it.