As a woman, here are some simple tips and how men can help.
Value yourself, and relationships where you are an equal.
In any relationship, there is going to be give-and-take as situations and circumstances change, but you should also feel that, overall, your value in the partnership is equal to that of your partner's.
Learn how to own your voice and assert your opinions.
Pay attention to how women have been socialized to defer to men in conversations. For all you men, avoid interrupting, talking over, discrediting or dismissing a woman's opinion. Studies show that women are more frequently interrupted than men. Over the course of many conversations, they get the message that what they have to say is not necessarily as compelling or valued as what men have to say.
Identify words and language that communicate gender bias.
Make an effort to consciously change the language so it draws attention to areas where bias is apparent. Two places to look for gender bias include position titles that infer gender and school/employer policies that infer gender.
Speak up about sexist jokes or sexist images.
Promote sexual harassment policies in your workplace.
Focus on the person instead appearance.
To foster a healthier self-image, compliment yourself or other woman for achievements, thoughts, and actions.
Call attention to media deception.
Expose and understand unrealistic media images for what they are: retouched, computer-manipulated photos of models-a group that makes up only a tiny subset of the population.
Learn how to ask and negotiate for wages and raises.
Know the worth of your job. Education is your best defense. Research everything you can think of to find the competitive salary for your job in your region -- employment surveys, libraries, professional organizations, peers. For a raise, you need evidence to show your boss that you deserve it. One way to document your contribution to your company is to keep a job diary. Every week, or even every day, write down what you did and how it helped meet the company's objectives. Keep lists or spreadsheets, because managers like to count things. Remember that attributes such as positive attitude, willingness to put in overtime, and quality of work, are essential. Include a few good stories about your work in the diary to illustrate what you added.
Think about, plan and prepare for career advancement.
Mentors are a great asset. If your company doesn't offer clear career ladders, research or find a seminar to help you understand your industry and opportunities.
Encourage risk taking.
People develop self-reliance when they're given the space to solve problems and make mistakes in the process.
Know and be able to manage your finances.
Start saving for retirement immediately in a career - it will grow to much more than the same amount if you wait 10 years to start saving. And keep saving - Social Security doesn't provide the equivalent of a "living wage" for retirement years. Women statistically live about six years longer than men, and run a higher risk of living in poverty as they get older.
HEATHER LEE, Author and Motivational Speaker
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Women's Finance Guide
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