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Toni on having a thick skin

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Toni on having a thick skin

I think it is more difficult being a woman in business when you have to challenge your colleagues. As women, we are taught to want to be liked, to be peacemakers and not make waves. Challenging women are too often seen as aggressive and pushy.

I had this situation where I was on an important conference call about production problems. I was trying to make suggestions on how to fix the problem when a male colleague interrupted me and told me to ‘not get emotional.’ Now, there is no real way to respond to that without sounding ‘emotional.’ It’s a statement that is said deliberately to cut you down and out of the conversation. So, I just took a deep breath, muted the phone for a minute, and then calmly restated my points.

Ultimately, my suggestions were accepted and the problem was resolved.

Those things, they might seem minor, but they are very cutting in the moment. A thick skin and a good sense of humor really help.

As a woman, you have to be cognizant of how you are perceived at work. You have to be aware of your appearance, attitude and the impression that you leave on others.

Technology is definitely more diverse, but I would say the number of women in the ‘hard’ engineering roles has stayed almost the same. I think the environment is more tolerant of women, but there is still work to be done.

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