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Dr Margaret Byrne, upcoming Ascend speaker on how unconscious gender stereotypes can contaminate performance reviews, costing you talented female staff

For the past 6 years, UGM has been researching why so few women move from the middle to the top of Australian organisations. The senior women surveyed continually raised two key issues they needed – a bigger share of the talking time in meetings, and better recognition for good performance. This research once again proves that its not that women don’t do promotion worthy work, but that they don’t get an opportunity to have it noticed.

Dr Byrne has written an article published through the UGM newsletter that covers the following points:

Managers are gatekeepers: to opportunities for their female team members to shine. Managers need to understand their role as coordinating recognition and  rewards like coaching, promotion, mentoring and development, while employees should focus on building rapport, trust and understanding with their manager.

UGM had difficulty filming performance reviews because of the understandably touchy nature of the person being assessed. But Byrne makes the point that this secrecy can be a real issue in many organisations, where employees don’t know how their co-workers (and competition for that promotion) are being assessed.

Merit and gender assumptions are not as mutually exclusive as we hope: UGM found clear examples of bias creeping in. Byrne recommends rescrutinising your HR policies for gender bias. For example create talent, capability and leadership frameworks for both genders, not just men and make sure your associated behaviours for capabilities are not male associated behaviours, but ones that both genders share and express differently.

As well as including self assessment, and peer assessment, Byrne also promotes really clear performance guidelines, because the more ambiguous the guidelines, the greater the risk of inference and unconscious gender stereotypes.

As you can see, gender stereotypes are complicated and you normally need professional help to unravel their crippling presence in your organisation. To find out if gender stereotypes are a risk for your company, use this tool kit. And to register for November Ascend click here.


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2 months ago

Jen Dalitz

What are the lessons you’re teaching your kids? We took the opportunity of a holiday long weekend to visit my mum interstate as the timing of the trip coincided with my son’s favourite AFL team battling it out against my mum’s beloved team. Perhaps only those of you with the love for AFL will appreciate why we’d plan a long distance trip around a game of footy, but suffice to say it was a passion project! With every ounce of anticipation, the game was a tough, tight duel and could easily have gone either way. Yet when the final siren sounded, it wasn’t our team that was smiling. It sure is tough for a 10 year old boy to sit within a crowd 41,000+ people all cheering for the opposite side. It was tough for him to see the exhaustion and disappointment on the faces of the players he adores. And yet, it’s so important for him to learn that his team won’t always win. There’s so many lessons in that, but the one I chose to instil is that you won’t always back the team that wins but you’ll always back the team that you love. That’s why I asked him to wear his team colours home the next day, and show his support even when the chips are down. That’s the kind of commitment I want my son to learn and the kind of team player I want him to be. PS. #gotheGiants @GWSGiants #neversurrender ... See MoreSee Less

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4 months ago

Jen Dalitz

I haven’t been here in a while as the writing has been on hold. But I was reminded today that there are things in our life that light us up. That might take us out of our comfort zone but, once you sit with it, bring you both joy and a sense of “I can do this” achievement. These moments are such a gift. So I’m curious, what’s your special thing that lights you up?

Despite (or in spit of) my professional career, these moments for me normally involve my horses. I’ll never be an equestrian Olympian, but I take great pleasure in all the lessons my horses teach me. They remind me that it’s a team effort, we’re in it together, and that if I’m prepared to give a little bit more, they will too. That’s true whether we’re on the ground taking care of their feet, or grooming, or when I’m atop riding as one. Two hearts one team.
It’s hard to describe the adrenaline and joy they bring to my life. But I’d love to know, what lights you up??
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And so, maybe time does change some things. Or women do.

Skavlan Talkshow
– They let me go at 42 because they told me I was too old to represent women's dreams. #kvinnedagen

Watch our talk show interview with Isabella Rossellini here:
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