By Lois Phillips, Ph.D.
Excerpted and adapted from Women Seen and Heard: Lessons Learned from Successful Speakers by Lois Phillips, Ph.D., and Anita Perez Ferguson, M.A. (Luz Publications, 2004)
According to Catalyst, the premier research source regarding women’s advancement into top management roles, stereotyping of women remains a problem, particularly with regard to women’s capacity to communicate about and solve problems as well as men do. So, if you are a woman or are helping women advance do this exercise:
Imagine yourself at the front of a vast auditorium, about to begin your presentation describing a technology advance. You know your stuff, and want to bring people together to increase mutual success. But the audience may wonder if they should take you seriously. Although you are the epitome of cool, you are still up against the stereotype of woman as illogical, emotional, and details oriented. How do you prepare yourself to deliver your message so it makes an impact?
The truth is that even when women achieve position and status, women speakers need to gain credibility before they are believed. The voice of authority has historically been and remains a male voice; think John Wayne, Lee Iacocca, Ronald Reagan, and Bill Clinton. Men start with credibility as leaders; women have to earn it.