Is it easier for men to be visible at work?

Very often when I talk to people about how to advance my career, their advice is: "Be visible!". This is also the advice that people around me are getting.

There are many ways to be visible: you can highlight your own achievements whenever you have the opportunity, you can work hard and hope that others will notice (and highlight your achievements for you), you can get involved with projects that you know will gain visibility, or become an expert in a topic so people know they need to find you if they need certain information. But when I read Chall's most recent post about how it is important for women to be likable, it made me wonder if for men there are more acceptable ways to be visible then there are for women. For men it seems easier to be bragging about achievements without being considered an overachiever, and it seems easier to be critical about a project without being labeled bitchy.

So how to deal with this? I guess for me it helps to think that in a company with so many female role models, there are at least many examples of how to be visible as a woman.

3 responses so far

  • Zuska says:

    If you are not the standard model, then it it is easy to be invisible when you are unexceptional - that is, when you are doing a good job - and super easy to be visible when you are exceptional - when something goes wrong on your project; when you are ill or pregnant or doing elder care; when you are being harassed (and blamed for it, e.g. see women at Fox News).
    The trick is making sure your unexceptional good stuff gets attention and exceptional issues get contextualized.
    Alas this is the work of lifetimes and coalitions not just individuals.

  • chall says:

    I've missed this. so sorry.

    I have similar thoughts and I think Zuska nails it. "it it is easy to be invisible when you are unexceptional - that is, when you are doing a good job". And the suggestion to get unexceptional good stuff noticed/attention is crucial. A lot of this is "you're just doing your job" - when in reality it's "just doing your job WELL" which is a different.

    I also think the main issue is that if you're part of a subgroup, it's hard to be "just unexceptional" since the onus is that you should be exceptional. (Again, Hilary exemplifies this pretty well. She hasn't "just been a good governor of state" as certain male presidential candidates who ran earlier years.)

    I'd also point out (at least from my feminist upbringing) that considering the notion that a classroom where everyone thinks "talking time is 50:50" between men and women, where in reality it's more like 70:30 makes me think that similar things happen at work/other places. That the "regular joe" gets more attention than "regular linda"...

  • […] I guess for a part it comes back to the question of how you become visible and get your opinion heard if you don't look like the prototype […]

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