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 As a woman with 15 years experience in the corporate construction world, I've sat back and watched much younger people with less than 5 years experience, advance in the company because, they keep their business opinions to themselves and tell the corporate execs, what they want to hear! Is this the only way to advance in corporate America? Does experience and professional knowledge....not to mention loyalty...mean absolutely nothing in the corporate world? Especially, if your an opinionated woman? Curious to hear comments on this, as I'm at a loss! Is this what we've become? Sugar-coated liars, rather than truthful, knowledgeable professionals, who are free to express their opinions in order to better the outcome of the company as a whole ? Years of personal experience within the same corporate construction industry, has proven that you will only advance as a woman, if you are seen but only heard if your opinion is given to you and approved by management executives, in advance! Very sad!

buhlerar's picture

And what you can control is you.

Your description includes a lot of assumptions and conclusions, as opposed to simply stating the facts.  Your conclusions may be accurate, but there are many ways to interpret almost any set of facts.  Perhaps it's true that less experienced people are being promoted because they don't rock the boat, and perhaps they're being promoted because they're not women.  It's possible, and if so then complaining about it is obviously going to work against you.  As they say, embrace reality.  And quit smashing yourself into a wall just because you don't like where they put the door.

That being said, it is not a universal truth that people with 15 years experience are better than people with 5 years of experience -- 5 years is more than enough time to prove yourself enough to be promoted to the next level.  It is also not a universal truth that your opinions would better the outcome of the company -- almost certainly you are sharing ideas that would not work.  And you have certainly not "proven that you will only advance as a woman, if you are seen but only heard if your opinion is given to you and approved by management executives, in advance."  All you've proven is that what YOU are doing in YOUR specific company isn't working.

In other words, I'm not sure you have created a correct picture of the playing field, and even if you have, your response is not productive.

I realize this may sound a bit harsh -- I'm sure you've tried a bunch of different tactics and maybe you're just blowing off steam after another frustrating episode.  If so, take my comments with a grain of salt and go back to focusing on productive next steps.  We've all been there.

Almost all promotions are a result of good performance and good relationships with upper management.  Take each of those in turn.  Are you a top performer?  Are you performing several duties of the level above you?  Are you able to articulate your accomplishments?  What is your relationship with your boss?  What about your boss's boss?  Have you told your boss you are interested in a promotion - and if so what did he or she say?  In the situations you're thinking about, are you sharing your opinions during the preliminary phases, or are you sharing opinions after the decision has been made and it's time to get on board?  And don't worry if others are not doing all of these -- stay focused on your behaviors.

Also, it's going to be very difficult for anyone on the forums to give you very specific advice because you haven't described any specific circumstance.  So the questions above are aimed at thinking through how to start.  As you break this problem down into manageable bits, we're here to help you navigate any specific situation you're facing.

Best of luck!

hrjen's picture

Let me start out by saying, I'm a female that works for an engineering company and I have over 12 years in this industry.  I also have spent my career voicing my opinion - frequently, and my career has had a good steady climb upward, despite the fact that my opinions are often not popular.  I'm in HR, not in the technical side, but because of my role, I am involved in many of the conversations around promotions in the ranks of director and above. That being said, I don't believe the fact that I'm a female in a technical company with 12 years makes my input any more valuable than Buhlerer's comment above, but you seemed to think gender is playing a role in your career prospects, so I figured I'd make that clear

You have a lot of frustrations and I agree with Buhlerer that it sounds like you are mostly venting, but you asked for input so here it is:

You have a decision to make.  Well, some reflection then a decision.

If you are being passed over there is a reason - the key players in your industry are either making a reasonable decision or an unreasonable one.  In my experience with watching people's careers on an almost daily basis for over a decade now - people usually act reasonably with the information they are given.  However, there are pockets of pure discrimination left in the corporate world (I'm speaking from a US perspective, so I really have no insight into companies outside of the US) so I will leave room for the possibility that your company could possibly be one of them.

If, after some reflection, you decide that it is their problem and they are ignoring good talent, my best advice (that I give to friends and family all the time) is this:  refuse to work for a company that you don't respect.  You can stay there and work on yourself or start looking for that company (in or out of your industry) that will appreciate your skills.  However, I agree with Buhlerer, don't stay and wear your career down trying to make them change. If you feel you are dealing with pure discriminatory behavior consult a lawyer while you are looking for another job, but the general vibe I get from your message is more that management is paying attention to the wrong qualities in their people. 

Also, in my experience, loyalty means a lot, but questioning the loyalty of others never gets you anywhere. 

Good luck, if your message is indicative of how you have been feeling for a while, you are probably at one of those "career crossroads" that people always talk about.

naraa's picture

 Wannabe,

First I want to say I do agree with the replies given by Hrjen and Buhlerar.  My comment is additional to what they are saying and also to support you on venting out. 

I can only imagine how prejudice the construction corporate world must be.  I have been working in an engineering company in south america for almost 10 years and I see discrimination against woman all the time.  The bar is so much higher for woman to succeed.  There are opportunities for women there, and they are not few, but my experience has been that "woman have to prove themselves worthy for the promotion while man have to prove themselves unworthy of it after they have been promoted".  Manager´s and supervisors I have seen acting this way do it unconsciously, almost thinking they are protecting woman (HBR woman are over mentored).  So many times I see the man getting the challenge projects and the woman considered not to be ready yet.  

The other issue I have seen happening is woman voicing out an idea or a concern and it gets to a dead wall, no matter how hard she tries it, and how supported and good her idea is, it won´t get listened.  The hardest thing is that again most man will not even realise how unopened they are for the idea, just by the fact it was stated by a woman.  When I encountered this type of people, rather than continuing hitting against a wall I modify the way I am putting my idea forward in a way that they actually think it came from themselves.  You are just going to have to use a lot of persuasion.  Some people will actually notice the idea was actually yours and eventually you will get the credit, which could eventually lead to the promotion.

This is not very easy to write, and please I hope nobody gets me wrong here, by no means I am suggesting a gender fight or anything like that, quite the contrary, and I do agree I am over-generalising, because differences between the actions of two man and the actions of two woman can actually be greater those between a man and a woman.

I vented out here as well just so you know, the problem is not really with you, discrimination is there.  That said, you can not gain the fight by fighting back, you cannot change other people, the only way you can gain the fight is see how you adjust your behaviour to fit in and succeed.  And while it is true that there is discrimination it is also true that most woman do not fight as much as man for their promotions, etc.  So the advice given by Buhlerar is good.  Bellow are some links of interesting articles and videos about woman in the workforce which may give you some further advice, and if not (some of it also not very actionable) at least it can make you feel better by knowing you are not alone.

http://www.ted.com/talks/sheryl_sandberg_why_we_have_too_few_women_leade... (great talk on the differences from man and woman seen from how most woman act, and directions on how woman should act to advance further in their careers)

http://blogs.hbr.org/ideacast/2010/08/women-are-over-mentored-but-un.html

How Women Become Leaders - HBR IdeaCast - Harvard Business Review