Posts Tagged ‘workplace’

Press Release: The Male Factor by Shaunti Feldhahn

December 9th, 2009

The Male Factor is the singularly best business book for women I’ve read in years. This well-researched yet thoroughly readable book is rich with rare insights into how men really see women in the workplace—and how with a few simple adjustments you can even the playing field.”

—Lois P. Frankel, Ph.D., author of Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office and See Jane Lead

 In her new book, bestselling author Shaunti Feldhahn discloses the revolutionary findings of a seven-year research study—based on a national survey and interviews with more than 3,000 men—into the behaviors unwittingly engaged in by women that can undermine how they are perceived in the workplace.

THE MALE FACTOR

The Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions,

and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace

By Shaunti Feldhahn

Over the last few decades, corporations across America have developed a bucket of programs to help advance or retain female employees. We’ve seen a surge in management attention to work/life balance issues, fostering networks and mentoring, and an increased emphasis on professional development for women. Nonetheless, the latest study by Catalyst shows that only 16% of corporate officer positions are held by women, and a mere 15 of the Fortune 500 companies have women CEOs.

In her new book, The Male Factor: The Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions, and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace (Broadway Business; December 29, 2009; $22.99), Shaunti Feldhahn points out that “as valuable as these efforts are, there is a significant hole in the bucket. Women can be skilled, talented, highly educated, mentored, networked—and yet trade all that away by unintentionally undermining themselves in interactions with male colleagues.”

Based on seven-years of intense research, a ground-breaking national survey, and interviews with more than 3000 men, Shaunti has uncovered a career-critical competency women have often overlooked. In The Male Factor, Shaunti reveals the hidden perceptions of men in the workplace, and their potential impact on women—the unspoken expectations that no man would dare to publicly acknowledge and to which no HR department would ever admit.

The differences between men and women aren’t just a matter of viewpoint and upbringing: neuroscientists have discovered the ways in which men’s and woman’s brains are hardwired differently. And problems occur when men and women don’t recognize their different assumptions.

Here are three of the ten “unspoken expectations” Shaunti discovered, that men in the work world share:

1. At work, you function according to the “natural laws” of the Working World, not the Personal World; therefore, you aren’t supposed to have the same feelings as you would at home—and if you do, you’re seen as unprofessional

Ever heard the phrase It’s not personal; it’s business?

Most women tend to have a holistic view of the world, one that takes work matters, professional relationships, personal activities, family, and so on, and views them all as part of the big picture called “life”. Men, on the other hand, tend to compartmentalize more. For men, it is as if there are two different worlds, “Work World” and “Personal World”, and when a man goes off to work in the morning and crosses that metaphorical bridge into the work world—“work-world” rules apply. One should never, for example, get personally upset by criticism, since “personal feelings” belong in “Personal World”, not in “Work World”.

 As one male software executive Shaunti interviewed said, “I didn’t come up with this. It’s just the way it is. I mean, I don’t like gravity when I’m falling out of an airplane, but you can count on it operating that way.”

2. Getting “emotional” equates to “not thinking”—and getting emotional means far more than crying

The multi-tasking female brain is wired to be able to process strong emotions and (up to a point) think clearly at the same time. But since the male brain is not wired to simultaneously process thoughts and feelings quite as easily, the presence of strong emotions makes it much more difficult for him to think clearly. And because men can’t think as clearly when they are experiencing strong emotion, they assume women can’t either.

In a man’s mind, becoming inappropriately “emotional” includes a great deal more than spilling or fighting back tears. For example, when they see a female colleague becoming defensive when questioned, having a personality conflict, pushing too hard, or stating an opinion too quickly, they assume she is emotional and thus that they cannot trust her judgment in that instance (because they wouldn’t trust their own if the roles were reversed).

 3. Female attire that calls attention to a good figure means the woman is trying to be “sexual”— for the purpose of distracting him

We are frequently told “Men are visual”—but many women don’t know what that means. Because women don’t share the same type of visual wiring, they are not always aware of how men, literally, see them. Each of us have individual temptations, frustrations, impulses and desires; biological quirks that we’d rather not have. Men have a visual wiring that is highly attuned to appealing images, including an appealing woman. And if the woman is dressing in a way that overtly draws attention to her figure (for example, a low cut top), that image often ignites a sexual train of thought most men in a business setting would rather not have. But their visual nature is not something they can turn off.

As a result, the nationally-representative survey for The Male Factor discovered, almost two in three men said they miss some of what a woman says when she is wearing tight-fitting or low-cut attire. In a second survey, a group of 409 men were shown one of two 90-second videos of an attractive business-woman presenting on four customer suggestions. The only difference between the two videos is that in one she wears her cross-over top low to show her cleavage. In the end, the percentage of men who remembered the presenter’s four points dropped 25% if they watched the more revealing version of the video.

This groundbreaking book is vitally important for women, at any level, who interact with men in the workplace, whether they are superiors, coworkers, subordinates, or customers. Understanding what men privately think and expect in the workplace can give women a critical advantage as a team player and in getting ahead. Not because women should necessarily adapt to male expectations, but because it is only with all the information that they can make an informed decision of whether or how to apply this knowledge.

 In the end, working to understand what men really think in the workplace is like working to understand a foreign culture. Having inside knowledge of the culture is essential to navigating the landscape and avoiding potential pitfalls. Although it is up to each woman to decide whether to act on that knowledge or not, it is imperative that women have the knowledge.

In a time when jobs are scarce, regardless of sex, and it is more critical than ever to create and maintain positive perceptions within the workplace, the The Male Factor is timed perfectly to aid both men and women in understanding the world in which they work, and how to make it a place where both communicate and work on a level playing field.

For more information, please visit: www.TheMaleFactorBook.com.

About the Author

 SHAUNTI FELDHAHN began her career as an analyst on Wall Street and today is a bestselling author and speaker. Her books, including For Women Only and For Men Only, have sold over 2 million copies and have been translated into fifteen different languages. Her background as an analyst is the key to the compelling and eye-opening nature of her books. She holds a master’s degree in public policy from Harvard University and during the 1990s worked on Capitol Hill and for the New York Fed, analyzing the Japanese financial crisis for the highest level decision makers of the Federal Reserve System. She now lives in Atlanta, GA, with her husband Jeff and two children.

 Broadway Books logo

THE MALE FACTOR

The Unwritten Rules, Misperceptions,

and Secret Beliefs of Men in the Workplace

By Shaunti Feldhahn

On-sale: December 29, 2009; Broadway Business

ISBN: 978-0-385-52811-5; Hardcover, 320 pages; Price: $22.99

For more information on The Male Factor, please contact Dennelle Catlett at dcatlett@randomhouse.com or at 212-572-2537.

 


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