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Are you pushing too hard to get ahead? Or not enough? A cautionary tale from Catherine Fox

Last Friday I attended the AIM Great Debate in Sydney, which sphinxx was proud to sponsor.  The topic of the debate was “Nice Girls Finish Second” and involved a swag of celeb speakers including Mia Freedman, Peter FitzSimons and Wendy Machin arguing in the affirmative and Catherine Fox, Lisa Wilkinson and Dr Cathy Foley arguing against.  I laughed so hard at the tit for tats from side to side, and really it was refreshing to see everyone having some fun with what is usually a pretty hard slog: trying to decipher why so few women make it to the top in business.

Chris Golis has written a guest blog post on his synopsis of the debate, so I won’t cover that here.  I will however share my favorite argument for the day which came from the AFR’s Corporate Woman columnist, Catherine Fox who commented on the difficulties women face in overcoming bias and stereotypes (she says the term “nice girl” is just a stereotype, anyway).

“Whichever way you look at it, stereotypes work against us… my sister and I call this the push-push push.  In that last phase of childbirth there’s a stage when all the people are gathered around the bed saying “push… push… PUUUUSH! – followed by – oooohhh, you pushed too much – we’ll have to give you stitches now!”

Fox says women are told “you’re not requesting enough… you didn’t put your hand up for the pay rise… well you know what happens when you put your hand up? Then they say she’s a pushy bitch, she’s too ambitious.” 

I think we can all think of a time when we’ve seen this play out.  So whether you’re pushing too hard, or not hard enough… beware of those stereotypes and take note when they’re working against you.


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