Why women don’t get promoted

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As an increasing number of legal teams work between offices, the highly competitive working environment of the legal industry continues to stunt the career growth of women, a psychologist says.

While the industry has evolved from the traditional Old Boys’ Club and firms have invested in support networks to retain female talent, women continue to be overlooked because of one thing:  themselves.

According to trained psychologist and performance consultant Shona Rowan, self-promotion, networking and confidence are what build a successful career.

But, she said, these behavioural traits aren’t instinctive to women like they are for many men.

Women tend to think that their work will speak for itself, but that’s almost never the case.  And in a competitive industry, while the men are out promoting themselves, the female approach doesn’t have a high success rate.

“Everybody is hard working, the standard is so high, particularly in law where everyone is highly educated and intelligent,” said Rowan.

“Now days, your visibility, your self-belief, your ability to promote yourself and the value you bring to your firm and your network is just as important.”

In her workshops, The Psychology of Successful Women, Rowen teaches women the skills to do just that: level out the playing field.

“Women have a different mindset around some of these things so they don’t want to be seen as arrogant,” said Rowan.
Many of the women Rowen meets have to learn the importance of networking, and the importance in making your achievements known within the business.

“Hard work and intelligence is not enough to guarantee you a successful career.

“I meet so many amazing, talented, hardworking, highly educated women, and often they will be overlooked for opportunities and it’s not because they don’t have the talent,” said Rowan.

“Often it’s purely because they’re not visible enough, they don’t have a strong enough brand within the firm, and often they’re not as connected.”
  • Louise Steer on 1/09/2015 3:25:32 PM

    Women don't get promoted because men run most firms and don't promote women. If they do, they promote one or two to look progressive. However, the majority of women can expect never to make partner. Once women accept that, they can start their own firms, work in house or try a career in management. Those are the ways in which women will be able to achieve for themselves. The legal profession still retains antiquated management practices and ideas and is not facing the challenges of outsourcing and globalisation for lawyers. Those are game changing and the old system of partnerships will soon be at an end anyway.

  • shirli Kirschner on 1/09/2015 1:22:37 PM

    What is interesting is what to do about this. An important additional strategy is for firms and more importantly clients to recognise and promote the lawyers they work with who are team players and quiet achievers. It is a wonderful trait and one that is unfortunate to lose in our practice and the world.

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