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5 Myths that keep women from advancing in their careers

Hattie Hill is President & CEO of Women’s Foodservice Forum, the largest national organization focused on advancement of women and gender parity.

We have to stop believing these myths if we want to advance in our jobs

The workplace can often be a tricky area for women to navigate. From accomplishments to challenges, no matter what industry in which women work, they tend to struggle when it comes to professional advancements, not specifically from a lack of interest or skill, but rather due to common myths. The following is a breakdown of common misconceptions that prevent women from obtaining success in the corporate arena:

1. You'll lose your work/life balance

Women often think that with a more senior role, they will be required to commit countless hours at work and that will negatively impact their family lives. In today’s business environment, employers actually tend to be more flexible when it comes to schedules and family time. As leaders, women can have a stronger foothold with management as well as the ability to negotiate a schedule that offers a good balance between both the office and the family. Although leadership roles can be demanding, women today have access to smartphones, which gives them control of shutting down after hours and/or on the weekends. Women shouldn't make presumptions about senior level positions and the time constraints that may potentially come with them. Most companies do value personal and/or down time. This belief only restrains women from exploring something that could be financially and professionally beneficial to them.

2. CEOs look to promote men

It may seem like the boardroom is dominated by men, but CEOs look to make insightful, strategic decisions that will help to positively impact and further expand their businesses. This means promoting the best talent in sight, whether it is a man or a woman. The right candidate must be an asset to the company. Women are just as capable as men to handle positions of power, but often shy away from speaking up and/or have preconceived notions about certain aspects. The most important advice that women should keep in mind is that they shouldn’t over think and undersell themselves. Women need to embrace their talents and have confidence in their abilities. These are key things that will help them standout as potential candidates for promotion.

3. Asking for a promotion looks bad

Women often feel that their work should speak for itself and they shouldn’t have to bring attention to it. If women have made a significant impact in their organizations then they should not shy away from opening up a conversation about exploring a promotion. In advance of touching on this subject, women should arm themselves with some highlights about their individual contributions as well as be able to showcase the positive impact that they have made on the company. Women should know that their chances of continuing a conversation are better if they can make a valid case for themselves. Keep in mind that for managers and bosses, the bigger picture is more valuable so women should touch upon how they can make an even bigger impact in the next possible role. Women should walk in with ideas about next steps along with a recap of all the good that they have done in their current roles, and then discuss why they are ready for the next challenge.

4. All leaders have advanced degrees

Depending on the industry, an advanced degree could or could not be beneficial. But women who believe that the lack of a higher-level degree is a disqualifying point are only doing themselves injustice. If women do work in an industry that requires a master’s degree to move up, they should consider investing in themselves by taking night or weekend classes. Depending on the size of a firm, a lot of big companies have a continuing education program in place for employees that are looking to advance themselves professionally. Women should keep in mind that not all positions require a higher-level degree, however. Contrary to popular belief, not all upper-level management or CEOs have MBAs. Consider some of the most successful people of today such as Tumblr’s founder David Karp or the CEO of Virgin, Richard Branson, none of whom hold an advanced degree

5. You're not the right age

Ageism is a real thing and it does exist, but remember that age is nothing but a number. No matter what a woman's age, it is her professional experience, capability and performance at her job that truly set her apart. In addition to those characteristics, what differentiates a candidate is her level of passion — for the organization, her team and clients. Women should never assume that they are "too young" or "too old" to take on a higher position as that will only hinder them from obtaining professional success. If women have the necessary skills and talent, they deserve to be in the pool of candidates for consideration. Women should not be afraid to speak up and make their interests known to upper management. Being proactive is a skill that women should always retain, no matter what their professional level.

About Women's Foodservice Forum

The Women's Foodservice Forum is the industry’s premier leadership development organization with more than 25 years of experience advancing women in the foodservice industry. The Women's Foodservice Forum serves thousands of individuals and hundreds of employers in all segments of the industry including operations, manufacturing, distribution, publishing, consulting and more. Through highly effective and educational events such as the Annual Leadership Development Conference, Executive Summit and Regional Connects, as well as professional development and rich networking opportunities, Women’s Foodservice Forum provides the competence and strategic connections needed to make a positive difference in the careers of women in the foodservice industry.

For more information, visit www.womensfoodserviceforum.com.

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