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Why Women’s Introversion Prevents Promotion

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As the world is changing, so is the gender ratio in the workplace. According to the United States Department of Labor, approximately 57 percent of women currently participate in the labor force, even though many still see the workplace as a man’s world. With the growing number of females in the workplace, many people assume that more opportunities would be available to them. Unfortunately, women continue to struggle with male competition in the workplace. Women often have a difficult time competing for certain job titles, rewards, and promotions. Although many businesses are trying to fix this issue, women continue to voice their worries that they are not as valued and are being passed over for promotions.

It turns out women aren’t the only ones who tend to struggle with achieving their business goals due to competition. According to vocabulary.com, the term “introvert” describes “a person who tends to turn inward mentally.” People with introverted personalities often try to “avoid large groups of people” as they get a more energized feeling from being alone. A Forbes article states that roughly “one-third of people are introverted.” Although some introverts do well in business settings, many struggle to function well in a competitive workplace. Some introverts may find it difficult to approach their superiors or find it challenging to voice their thoughts and opinions in workplace settings. These struggles can lead to missed opportunities for promotions or leadership roles.

So, what happens when a woman works in a male-dominated space AND has an introverted personality?

The combination of the two can cause double the struggle for an individual. Showing leadership in business can be a challenge for anyone. Standing out and showing your skill set isn’t as easy as it may seem. For women, missing opportunities to show their strengths to leadership can hold them back, especially if there are significantly more men competing for the same opportunities. Introverted women are even more unlikely to capitalize on such opportunities.

Unless your workplace is uniquely aware of this problem, you’re bound to see that the odds aren’t really in favor of females with an introverted personality. Most women, like most men, are goal oriented and driven to achieve those goals regardless of workplace challenges. Introverted women and men might also have the same goals as their extroverted coworkers; however, it’s even harder for them to take the steps necessary to land a job, be promoted, or earn workplace respect. Although some extroverts also struggle in the workplace, many are selected for leadership positions simply by being noticed more so than introverts. Similarly, men are more often noticed and selected for leadership positions.

So, how can an introverted woman possibly succeed in business?

Unfortunately, there really isn’t a perfect answer. Sarah Hancock, content team manager of BestCompany.com, said she often relates to the challenges that many introverted women in business face. She said “it’s important to remember that everyone struggles with something. People shouldn’t belittle themselves based on their gender, race, or personality. You will probably face a lot of challenges in the business world if you are an introverted woman, but don’t let those keep you from success.”

Although there isn’t one best solution that works for every introverted woman in business, here are five ways introverted women can contribute to their success.

  1. Focus on the value you bring to the workplace. If you put your focus on bringing value to your company, you will be more likely to move up. People notice hard workers who do quality work. Regardless of gender or personality type, bringing your best to the table is incredibly important if you want to take the next step in your career.
  2. Develop individual relationships with mentors and coworkers. If large groups are outside your comfort zone, then try creating and nourishing one-on-one relationships with your coworkers, leaders, and mentors. Having a mentor to turn to for advice could also help you gain access to the opportunities you want most. You don’t always have to do everything on your own.
  3. Acknowledge and use your strengths. You might not think that you have any strengths, but you do. Try sitting down with a close friend, family member, or mentor and ask them for help identifying your strengths. You might be really good at listening or observing others. Or maybe you have the ability to communicate difficult concepts in easy-to-understand language. Use those strengths to get ahead in the workplace. There are many attributes that make a good leader, and most likely, you already have some.
  4. Let your actions say more than your words. You don’t need to be the most talkative employee or give amazing, flashy presentations to get noticed. Your actions communicate more than you realize to your management leaders. Maybe you are always on time to work, or maybe your work showcases your intelligence and innovative ideas. Your actions can prove your value and dedication to your work and your overall career goals.
  5. Set goals for yourself. Setting professional development goals and personal goals can help you achieve greatness in life. For example, if your confidence is holding you back from asking for a raise or a promotion, try setting a goal to improve your overall confidence. Make realistic goals and do what you can to achieve them.

There are many other ways women, especially introverted women, can succeed in the workplace. Don’t let gender stereotypes or challenges get in the way of your achieving your career dreams.

Alayna Pehrson manages two financial blogs for BestCompany.com. She enjoys expanding her knowledge of financial trends and topics.

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