‘Women ape male behaviour to succeed’

Almost three quarters of working women admit to changing their behaviour or appearance to succeed, with nearly half consciously adopting a different persona at work compared to at home, according to a survey by O2.

The research finds that 11% of women say there are no females in senior positions in their company and 42% agree that senior women in their firm conform to the alpha female stereotype. Women say they adopt various strategies to succeed, including hiding their emotions (50%), dressing in a more masculine way (23%) and exaggerating assertiveness (12%). One in 20 admit to mirroring the behaviour of male colleagues.

Ann Pickering, HR Director for Telefónica UK says “Having a truly diverse workforce – one in which all employees are encouraged to act and behave as themselves – is not just about what is proper and fair, it also makes complete business sense. While businesses today have come a long way from the offices of Mad Men, the reality is that many modern women are still feeling the pressure to conform to outdated stereotypes. Businesses have a responsibility to create the right opportunities to help everyone within their workforce to fulfil their true potential – while still being themselves.

“These results should act as a wake-up call for businesses to ensure they don’t miss out on the valuable contribution that women can make to their organisations. Through a number of simple measures, such as providing better flexible working, mentoring or training, businesses can ensure that they help all their people to achieve their potential regardless of the stage of their career or gender.”

The research also reveals that more than a third of women (37%) say they have experienced workplace discrimination from both men and women and almost half (47%) admit that it’s impossible to ‘have it all’ by combining a happy home life with a fulfilling career. Eleven per cent also state that workplace culture, where top spots tend to be occupied by men, is preventing them from reaching the next level in their career.

Additional findings from the survey include:

– Half of all women have hidden their emotions at work – 64% did so to appear more professional and 13% did so to disprove female stereotypes

– 23% admit to having dressed in a more masculine way – 64% did so to appear more professional and 38% did so to give themselves confidence

– 11% have dressed more provocatively –  49% did so to give themselves confidence while 42% did so to influence male colleagues

– One in 20 admit to consciously mirroring the behaviour of male colleagues – 38% did so to impress and affect the opinion of male colleagues; 31% did so to appear more professional and one quarter (25%) did so to feel equal to other colleagues.

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