Are You Asking For What You Need?
Emma Watson once said, “It’s sort of exciting, isn’t it? Breaking the rules.” Well – it wasn’t quite Watson who said it, but rather her inspiring character in Harry Potter, Hermione Granger. Though Watson was reading a script, she is very much like a real life version of the empowering, brilliant, female wizard she played on screen.
Off script, Watson actually said this powerful quote.
Whether you fell in love with Watson from her role as Hermione or for her activism and position as the UN Women Goodwill Ambassador, she is absolutely right.
Unfortunately, however, stereotypes against women often discourage us from both taking action and asking permission to do so in the first place.
As Harvard Business Review writes, “Women often don’t get what they want and deserve because they don’t ask for it. In three separate studies, we found that men are more likely than women to negotiate for what they want.”
This is due to 2 reasons.
First, society does not teach women they can and should ask for more. Instead, we’re taught our hard work will speak for itself and others will magically see what we are doing. Well, that is not always the case because everyone is heads down in their own world. Furthermore, we are often “socialized from an early age not to promote [our] own interests and to focus instead on the needs of others.”
Second, these societal impressions of how women should act also create an environment of criticism when we do speak up. “Many companies’ cultures penalize women when they do ask—further discouraging them from doing so. Women who assertively pursue their own ambitions and promote their own interests may be labeled as bitchy or pushy.” Oftentimes, this perception is not even conscious or intentional but persists nonetheless. It is important for both female and male managers and leaders to be keenly aware of changing this culture and of granting promotions based on skills and merit – not just on who asks for it and who doesn’t.
Though there is no magic spell or potent potion to fix this pervasive problem, it is through leaders like Watson that women are reminded of our power and agency in recognizing the magic within ourselves.