4 Ways Women Can Advocate for Themselves

April 13, 2016

Why is it so difficult for many women to promote themselves? To move up in a career, a woman needs to be noticed as capable of performing at a higher level of responsibility and as ready to play a larger role in ensuring her organization’s future success. This means that a woman must be willing and able to present her accomplishments, talents, and potential.

Men typically promote themselves by tooting their own horns loudly and frequently, unhesitatingly claiming personal credit for team achievements, and routinely characterizing their accomplishments, abilities, and potential as “outstanding,” “great,” and “unique.” Because of gender bias, a woman needs to approach self-promotion in a very different way. The four key components of her approach should be the following:

  • Content: Her value, qualifications, and contributions need to be presented in a factual, persuasive, articulate way, but she should do so with warmth, inclusiveness, and sensitivity to the reactions she is getting. She should prepare an “elevator speech” that highlights her accomplishments in two minutes or less. And she should be alert for unexpected opportunities to give it.
  • Style: Whenever and however she is advocating for herself, she should come across as confident, accomplished, and socially sensitive.  As she rehearses her elevator speech before a mirror, she should ask herself:  Do I come across as relaxed but engaging? Persuasive but pleasant? Do I invite others into the conversation?  Am I believable and interesting?
  • Completeness: A woman should keep a record of her assignments, responsibilities, accomplishments, and accolades over the evaluation period. She should organize this material so she tells a complete, accurate, and compelling story about her performance. She needs to be clear about her qualifications for the opportunity, raise, or promotion she wants.
  • Ask: She must be specific about what she wants. She should present what she is looking for as a win/win for everyone. She must not allow her desire for social harmony to cause her to accept a result that she does not believe is adequate or fair. This means she must not end the negotiations until they are over – that is, until she has gotten what she wanted or she’s hit a wall. Either way, she should leave the session with charm, good grace, and a clear sense on the part of her evaluators that she is committed for the long haul.

Leveraging the power of self-promotion will allow women to have long-lasting successful careers in any field. Your accomplishments are at risk of being overlooked if you don’t take the necessary steps to promote them!

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About The Author

Andrea S. Kramer (“Andie”) and Alton B. Harris (“Al”) are married and former law partners. For more than 30 years they have worked to promote gender equality in the workplace, mentoring thousands of women, and serving as sounding boards for each other’s ideas. They are co-authors of Breaking Through Bias: Communication Techniques for Women to Succeed at Work (Bibliomotion, May 2016). Learn more at or follow them on Twitter at @AndieandAl.

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    […] are still important because they can help other women stop focusing on the struggle and start building on their strengths. If you are a woman leader, you can start by modeling that philosophy. Be strong, be brave, be […]

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