Eight Things No Woman Wants To Hear

02/05/2016 3:13 PM AEST | Updated 15/07/2016 12:52 PM AEST
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Businesspeople making face at boss in office

If your career is your driving passion you will expect to be given as many opportunities in your workplace as the guy next to you. We know it doesn't always quite work out that way. These are eight things women have told me they have had to endure being told.

1. You tick all the boxes but...

Well clearly not all the boxes then. The one that remains untickable must be "male". What else can it be if every other criteria is satisfied?

2. We tried a woman once and it didn't work out.

I have actually heard this uttered. An organisation I once worked for "tried" a woman in a leadership role and she wasn't great so the company moved her on. They went back to a man, even though they tried a man before the woman and had to fire him because he was a disaster.

3. You are really coming along in the role.

Clearly this would be a fine sentiment if the role was new to you. However if, like far too many women I speak to, the new role they have taken is one they have not only performed before elsewhere, but had great success in a similar position, this is painfully patronising.

4. I am attracted to you.

Please, don't. And if you are, keep it to yourself. Keep the words to yourself, the lingering looks and the overt body language. There isn't a lot worse than worrying that your skills and experience may not have got you the job after all. If you reject his advances, a track record will count for nothing anyway. This is lose-lose.

5. Don't worry your pretty head about that.

I once sat on a board with a much older male chairman who would say this to me whenever I asked questions about the financials. It made me even more determined to do my duty as a director but I would have to stare at a wall after every board meeting.

6. He earns more because he has a family to feed.

Yes, this is a real statement. I had heard it often in the early stages of my career and could never work out why it was assumed that women didn't have families to feed too.

7. He works such long hours, he has worked hard for the promotion.

Hours in the office do not equal effectiveness. Most of the women I have worked with put in hours beyond the office. I once worked for a man who would stay at work until 9pm each night and expected everyone else to be there with him. Those of us with small children and a life would leave at a reasonable hour feeling guilty and often continued to work from home. I never understood why he didn't do the same when he had two small children at home who undoubtedly missed him.

8. Maybe next time.

Well actually maybe not. I have always viewed an employment contract as a two-way street. If you get passed over for a role and you know in your heart it should have been yours, go and work with people who will appreciate your talents.


This is an extract from Marina Go's new book Break Through: 20 Success Strategies For Female Leaders, published by Ventura Press.

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