Tag Archives: self-promotion

Women’s Self-Advocacy: Self-Promotion and Violating the “Female Modesty” Norm

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Some women experience anxiety when required to showcase their accomplishments and skills.
At the same time, they also understand that self-promotion, personal marketing, and “selling yourself” can be required to be achieve recognition and rewards at work.

Gender norms about “modesty” can contribute to women’s discomfort in highlighting their accomplishments.
These implicit rules advocate that women:

  • hold a moderate opinion of their skills,
  • appear humble and avoid pretentiousness,
  • disclaim personal responsibility for success,
  • accept personal responsibility for failure.
Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

In contrast, many American men proactively showcase their skills, and observers see self-promoting men as “competent,” “capable,” and “confident.”
And men who do not advertise their successes generally experience “backlash” like women who self-promote, according to Skidmore’s Corinne Moss-Racusin, Julie Phelan of Langer Research Associates, and Rutgers’ Laurie Rudman.
This suggests that anyone who behaves contrary to expected gender stereotypes may be less favorably evaluated and advance more slowly in careers.

Marie‐Hélène Budworth

Women from cultures that value cooperation, collaboration, and collective accomplishment face limited career advancement if they conform to these norms in self-promoting work cultures, found York University‘s MarieHélène Budworth and Sara L. Mann of University of Guelph.

Deborah A. Small

Deborah A. Small

Likewise, women who adhere to implicit “female modesty” expectations are less likely to ask for promotions and salary increases.
This reluctance contributed to women’s long-term pay disparity according to University of Pennsylvania’s Deborah A. Small, Linda Babcock of Carnegie Mellon University, University of Maryland’s Michele Gelfand and Hilary Gettman.

Peter Glick

Peter Glick

However, if women violate “modesty norms,” they can experience discrimination in hiring, promotion, and wages, reported Rutgers’ Rudman and Peter Glick of Lawrence University and other adverse interpersonal consequences, according to Yale’s Victoria Brescoll.

Mark Zanna

Mark Zanna

People who violate norms typically experience physical arousal including discomfort, anxiety, fear, nervousness, perspiration, increased heart rate, noted University of Waterloo’s Mark Zanna and Joel Cooper of Princeton.

However, if participants attribute this physical activation to “excitement” rather than norm violation, they were more likely to:

  • Engage in self-promotion,
  • Express interest in self-promotion,
  • More effectively describe their accomplishments.
Jessi L Smith

Jessi L Smith

Despite women’s – and some men’s –  career “double bind,” people can consciously communicate more effectively about their successes, demonstrated in studies by Montana State University’s Jessi L. Smith and Meghan Huntoon.

More than 75 women wrote sample essays for a merit-based scholarship valued up to USD $5,000.
One group was composed essays about their own accomplishments whereas another group wrote about another person’s accomplishments.

Andrew Elliott

Andrew Elliott

They also completed Achievement Goal Questionnaire – Revised by University of Rochester Andrew Elliot and Kou Murayama of Tokyo Institute of Technology to evaluate “performance approach” and “performance avoidance.”

The laboratory contained a black box described as a “subliminal noise generator.”
Half the volunteers were told the box produced “inaudible but potentially uncomfortable ultra-high frequency noise,” and they were later asked to evaluate “the effects of extraneous distractions on task performance.”
The remaining participants received no information about the black box.

Victoria Brescoll

Victoria Brescoll

Women who could attribute their experience to the “noise generator” produced higher-quality, more convincing descriptions of their achievements, measured by being awarded significantly higher scholarships prizes.
These women also said they were more interested in the task, which is typically associated with greater intrinsic motivation to showcase personal accomplishments.

In contrast, women who violated the “modesty” norm without reference to the “noise generator” said they:

  • Reported less interest in describing their achievements,
  • Negatively evaluated their performance,
  • Produced lower-quality essays,
  • Were more likely to report fear of failure.

Women perceived as displaying their accomplishments in essays were negatively evaluated by judges, who awarded significantly less to people wrote about their own accomplishments rather than about someone else’s.

Leon Festinger

Leon Festinger

One “workaround” for this self-promotion double bind is to reciprocally advocate for colleagues.
This strategy highlights colleagues’ accomplishments as organizational policies evolve to encourage everyone’s self-promotion.
An example is Google’s self-nomination process for advancement and promotion, coupled with reminder emails to submit self-nominations.

When people redefine showcasing their professional accomplishments as “part of the job,” they tend to perform more effectively and experience less cognitive dissonance.

  • How do you manage the norm against women “bragging” and showcasing their accomplishments?

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©Kathryn Welds

Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Negotiation, Networking-Mentoring-Sponsorship, Skillful Self-Promotion – Part 2 of 2

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Kenexa Career Development Model-Individual Behaviors

Part 1 of this post, Women’s Career Development Model – Individual Action in Career Planning and the Contest and Sponsorship Pathways to Advancement – Part 1 of 2,  highlighted Ines Wichart’s model of women’s career development with three levels and 11 components, based on her research as Kenexa High Performance Institute (KHPI), a subsidiary of IBM.

Ines Wichert

Ines Wichert

She outlined four behaviors that individuals can control or influence toward career advancement:

  • Career planning 
  • Opportunity-seeking, Negotiation
  • Career-building networking; Mentoring-Sponsorship    
  • Skillful self-promotion

The first segment of this two-part post considered facets of Career Planning and two independent paths to career advancement: Contest and Sponsorship routes.

Let’s consider the additional elements that respond to individual attention and efforts, including Opportunity-seeking while embracing risk.  

Susan Vinnicombe

Susan Vinnicombe

Val Singh

Val Singh

Highly effective career advancement opportunities include stretch assignments and on-the-job training.

Susan Vinnicombe and Val Singh of Cranfield University report that these development activities are most effective in building credibility, visibility, reputation as a capable, well-rounded leader.

However, their research found that women need more encouragement to take on challenging assignments than men, who are more likely to ask for these assignments.

Linda Babcock

Linda Babcock

Similarly, Linda Babcock reported that women tend to need encouragement to ask for promotions and salary increases.

Her research demonstrated that women are less likely to negotiate for their first salaries, unless they know that these are acceptable practices.

Manhattan CollegeAs a countermeasure, Babcock recommends negotiation practices demonstrated to mitigate negative perceptions by both men and women negotiation partners

Like Babcock, Mary Wade’s research at Manhattan College found that both men and women evaluated more negatively women who negotiated for salary using the same script as men.

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Corinne Moss-Racusin

Laurie Rudman

Laurie Rudman

Corinne Moss-Racusin and Laurie Rudman replicated this disconcerting finding at Rutgers University, leading to their formulation of “The Backlash Avoidance Model” (BAM)”.

According to this construct, women may demonstrate traditional gender role behaviors to mitigate “backlash” of negative reaction by men and women to “role discrepant” behaviors like asking for career advancement and commensurate compensation.

  • What approaches have been effective when you have asked for a salary increase or promotion?
         –How did you prepare?

         -How did you overcome objections?
  • When people ask you for a salary increase or promotion, what negotiation approaches have been most effective?
              -What have been least effective?

Wichart’s model of individual initiatives toward career advancement points to the importance of skillful professional networking, mentoring, and sponsorship.

National Center for Women and Information TechnologyNational Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT) reported that nearly half of technical women surveyed said they lack role models and mentors, and 84% said they lack sponsors.
The result is that these women are four times more likely to leave the current job role.

One reason that women’s professional networking efforts and seeking mentors may yield less effective career advancement than men:  Women tend to engage in professional networking for affiliation and emotional support with people close to their job level whereas men tend to network for career development with people significantly above the job level, according to Adelina Broadbridge of University of Stirling.University of Stirling

As a result of these differing approaches to professional networking, men may enjoy more rapid career advancement due to visibility and sponsorship.

Pamela Perrewe

Pamela Perrewe

F. Randy Blass

F. Randy Blass

In addition, women are likely to demonstrate less political understanding and insight because mentors are not sufficiently senior, according to Florida State University’s F. Randy Blass, Pamela Perrewe, and Gerald Ferris with Robyn Brouer of SUNY Buffalo.

Gerald Ferris

Gerald Ferris

Robyn Brouer

Robyn Brouer

Organizational support for formal and informal mentoring has been shown to increase employee engagement, satisfaction, and retention.

Therefore, organizations concerned with retaining talented women and minorities can increase the likelihood of keeping skilled employees by initiating structured mentoring programs and encouraging selective sponsorship.

  •  How have mentors and sponsors enabled your career moves?
  •  How do you decide who you are willing to mentor or sponsor?   

Previous posts have shared much current research and leading recommendations in building personal brand and practicing skillful self-promotion:

In light of the potential negative perceptions of women who showcase their accomplishments as they ask for salary increases and role advancement:

  •   How do you raise awareness of your accomplishments’ impact to avoid “backlash”?
  •   How do you define, develop, and communicate, “skillfully promote” your personal brand?

These research findings suggest three parting suggestions for women who want to Play Bigger:

  1. Question the thought that “I’m not ready yet.”
  2. Develop resilience and “a thick skin”:   If you are doing something innovative or important, you may draw both praise and criticism when you are noticed.
  3. Filter advice:  Implement recommendations that have “the ring of truth” and “resonate”;
    leave the rest.
  • What is the most helpful career advice you implemented?
  • What career advice have you decided not to implement?

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©Kathryn Welds