February 10, 2021
January’s EmPOWERment Hub entry about the McKinsey & LeanIn co-study on Women in the Workplace inspires this entry. As we now know, there is a steep increase in the number of women exiting the workplace during this pandemic. Studies will be done on the broader impact of the pandemic on society, the economy, and even on our health for years to come, but we already find ourselves alluding to a new normal.
In considering this new normal in a lot of workplaces, one particular book comes to mind: Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers by Lois P. Frankel, PhD originally published in the year 2004. In summary, this book lists several “errors” women make in the workplace that may impede their growth, or negatively influence the way they are perceived. It also offers suggestions on how to correct these errors and therefore improve your chance of success as a woman maneuvering a career in a world where women are usually under-represented.
The basic tenet of the book is that women are raised to be nice, which in this case means women seek to please even when it is to their own detriment. Many of the topics discussed in this book would be considered controversial by today’s standards. For example, the author emphasizes the importance of a woman’s physical appearance at work – including comments on how to dress smart and how to wear your hair, and body language when talking to male peers.
An updated version of the book, titled Nice Girls Still Don’t Get the Corner Office: Unconscious Mistakes Women Make That Sabotage Their Careers, by the same author, was published in 2013, about 10 years after its predecessor. This version of the book updated some of the author’s coaching tips to be more in line with the times (2013). But thinking of this book in the light of the new normal we are living in, I find myself wondering what advice Lois P. Frankel will offer women in the workplace today who are under even more pressure than usual juggling their careers, their families, their own well-being and even their mental health. In the post-pandemic world, what new expectations can women look forward to grappling with as we continue to maneuver our careers in a patriarchal society?