"We cannot think of being acceptable to others until we have first proven acceptable to ourselves.”
― Malcolm X on self worth and self- recognition.
Now, most of you may not have heard of Sheryl Sandberg. And those of you that have, perhaps only know of her as the COO of Facebook. But let me assure you, she is about to change the way you see yourself and your potential as a woman in the working environment. Her most recent path to success was carved by her philanthropic book Lean In. The goal of this book is women empowerment. In her 2010 TEDTalk was an awe inspiring speech, on the ways women are held back—and the way we hold ourselves back.
Which leads me to ask the complicated question, despite drastic changes urging for women to empower each other why and how are Pakistani women holding themselves back?
More importantly; who is to be blamed for such an act? – Women themselves, Pakistani society, or a tango between the two variables?
Unfortunately, many women in Pakistan suffer from the “Tiara syndrome”. And trust me; we are not alone in our suffering. This is a worldwide phenomenon that women are suffering from.
As Glamour Magazine in May of 2006 put it, "It’s not like Glamour to admit this, but there is something that men do better than women: ask for a raise."
This is the often, sweetly flawed thinking that if we as women keep our head down in the work place, perform diligently and work amicably hard. The right person (our boss) will recognize our efforts and award us accordingly.
This naïve thought though unlikely, is possible. But (and this is a big But...) Ladies, let’s face it , having “hope” and “optimism” as a strategy in the work place, is not much of a strategy at all.
And most of you are still in denial that women suffer from the Tiara Syndrome; however in the enlightening book, “Women Don’t Ask: Negotiation and the Gender Divide,” by Linda Babcock and Sara Leschever they sum up perfectly the extreme effects of women suffering from the Tiara Syndrome.
I feel in Pakistan women suffer from mild to extreme cases of this syndrome. And while there might be a deep rooted problem in the female psyche for not asking for what we deserve. This is a problem that can be solved very easily.
After all a 10 minute uncomfortable decision for a better salary and consequently better standard of living is a small price to pay.
Firstly, you need to learn to negotiate; negotiate your salary, negotiate your working hours and negotiate your compensation and bonuses. This on face vale seems unfair. Especially, on the grounds; what most women need to negotiate to attain in Pakistan and across the globe. Men get handed freely.
However, this is just step 1 in the “Lean In” strategy described by Sheryl to empower women to achieve and rise in the workplace. I feel this point was eloquently put forward as well by Negotiating Women Inc.
Moreover, I urge Pakistani women to realize; you are not alone in your symptoms from suffering from the Tiara Syndrome epidemic. As I stated earlier, this is a worldwide phenomenon.
A study by University of California Irvine study on organizational behavior found 17 % of women felt responsibility for ensuring their salary reflected their value, while 83% of women left it to their employers to decide how much they were worth.
Jane Anderson, the executive career coach at Inside Out Training and Coaching is quoted to have said “women tend to be more collaborative and inclusive, often playing down their contributions and acknowledging others achievements”. I agree with this statement a 110% and yes, some of you readers may be thinking this, in actuality is a good and humble quality to have. I agree with that demographic of readers as well. However, this quality in the working environment is not going to be an asset to Pakistani women. Corporations that you work for mainly solely care for making profit no matter how great the working culture is. That is why it is pivotal that you OWN your skills ladies and make the most beneficial use out of YOUR abilities and qualities.
I have come up with an acronym “ P.T.S.D.” – the Pakistani Tiara Syndrome Dilemma. This is the tiara syndrome and its mutually exclusive nature in the context of Pakistan.
Whether women and young girls, feminists or anti – feminists wants to admit it or not despite the patriarchal nature of our society, women get free passes and, away with a lot more, than men do.
This is not due to men being “sleazy” but quite the polar opposite. It is because the general teachings in our society have raised men to respect women and place them in high regard. That is why, when a woman is 50 Rs short while purchasing canteen food is exempted from paying the total amount. But a man may not be so lucky. Or if a man and woman both are waiting for a rikshaw in Lahore, the man will allow the woman to take the first rikshaw and wait for the second one.
This general culture of assisting and showing courtesy to women strongly prevails in Pakistan; as chivalry is not dead in this great nation.
However, I have come across the point, which women on a subconscious level assume the same culture of chivalry shall translate into the workplace. Social politeness and professional courtesy cannot be mixed up because it will result in a working culture of biased-ness.
Therefore, I propose workshops be conducted so that women remain conscious of how to avail maximum benefits as men do; via working credentials and utilising their work experience. Not based on societal reliance of “chivalry”.
Other methods that Pakistani women can adapt to beat the Tiara Syndrome:
- Career Vision and Purpose Vital: Ladies, start asking yourself what is your career vision? What is your career goal/s? And by being overly modest and humble about your work abilities and achievements is it hindering your progress? The most likely answer is, yes.
- More importantly, establish the purpose of YOU working and shaping your career. Only after can you begin to see yourself as a brand that needs to be marketed.
- Start thinking of yourself as a brand – If you can understand your personal brand and market it effectively, this will be reflected in your salary. Ask yourselves what makes you an asset to your organization? What sets you apart from the rest?
Iman Advice – promoting yourself may not come naturally at first, you may even feel like you are “boosting” about yourself or showing off. In order to feel less awkward while promoting yourself, you may identify the ways in which you feel comfortable being recognized. Secondly, the key here is, not to overdo it. Just like everything else in life, say and do things in moderation. Do not be on a 24/7 rant of your skills, work ethic and capabilities. Have the wisdom of differentiating and understanding;
Sense of occasion
Sense of proportion
Then, when the opportunity and time presents itself. Talk of your accomplishments. Which, in the long hall will translate into your salary.
For a more in – depth understanding of the tiara syndrome and it’s limiting women career’s I advice you read Women’s Agenda article on the matter.
Lastly ladies, understand that negotiation is an evidence – based process. Pakistani females are known to be a tad bit “jazbaathi”. You can’t after reading this, go into work the next day and say to your boss “. I demand a raise in my salary because I worked really hard this year”. This is not how the world works. You need to have substantial evidence backing your statement, and you need to understand overcoming the Tiara Syndrome in the Pakistani workplace is going to be a time consuming process.
So, just adhere to the following points further elaborated by HUFFPOST;
- Start Positive and get your offer/s in writing when starting or leaving a job.
- Be Firm
- Follow Up
- Negotiation is an evidence-based process; keep a journal, make a presentation showing with quantitative figures how you have aided the firm in achieving their success.
Vivacious. And making waves.