With the wage gap still in existence and women facing discrimination in STEM and leadership roles, the ability to advocate for yourself is as vital as ever. Here are some tips for women to practice self-advocacy in the workplace.
Take Up Space
Don’t allow others in your workplace to make you feel small. The smaller you make yourself and the less space you take up, the easier it is for others to ignore your needs. It’s scary, but it’s essential to push through the fear, anxiety, and self-doubt.
You’re capable and worthy of being heard, no matter what your imposter syndrome says. Let go of the fear of labels like “aggressive,” “domineering,” or “bossy.” People label women with those terms to make them quiet, submissive, and easier to control. Don’t allow others to do this to you.
Use Your Voice
Using your voice is intertwined with taking up space. When you have an opinion on something, don’t allow others to shoot down or diminish them. You have great ideas to contribute! Be assertive as you share them: put your shoulders back, lift your chin high, and speak clearly. Also, make eye contact with whomever you’re speaking to.
This assertive body language will both command the attention of others and make you feel more confident. Do your best to be confident in your speech as well—remove as many platitudes from your speech as possible. “I’m just trying to,” “I wanted to see if,” “if it might be possible,” and other phrases make your words softer and more palatable. However, they also make you easier to ignore and speak over.
Remove as many of these from emails and speech as possible—if you’re struggling, do your best to mirror your male colleagues’ phrasing until it comes more naturally.
Act Your Wage
If you’re on the internet frequently, you’ve likely already heard this term. It refers to doing only what your job requirements are and nothing more. It goes hand-in-hand with quiet quitting, which is a quiet form of protest to push back against unfair treatment in the workplace.
Of course, if you’re taking on more than your role and feel that you’re ready for a promotion, you should ask for that first. However, if your workplace is consistently asking you to do work outside of the scope of your role while refusing to increase your pay, quiet quitting may be for you. At worst, it will prevent you from burning out from excess work. At best, it could persuade them to give you that pay raise.
Self-advocacy in the workplace is difficult for many women, but it’s vital to your mental health and happiness. These tips should help you get started.