by Seven Van Nort
In a small, private college in South Central, PA, there is a literary magazine called The York Review. For the past two years, I’ve been in a position of power – the print editor – for this literary magazine. From the call for submissions, leading the submission revision process, to the compilation of the yearly print issue, I am the sole leader of all things involving said print issue. I am also a woman. While being in a position of power has its own respective issues, it’s been my experience that being a woman in a position of power only adds to the struggles. So, how do you, as a woman, surpass the struggle of your team’s perception and potentially internalized sexism?
1. It’s likely that your team doesn’t even recognize their lack of willingness to work with you or accept your authority. They’ll find themselves wanting to question your decisions. In order to combat this, it requires a great deal of preparation on your part. For every one reason you have for making a decision as it pertains to your team or your position of power, you’ll need three more. Back it up with sources and publisher approval.
2. Don’t be afraid to assert yourself, however you need to as it pertains to your experience. For me, I try to keep a straight face and speak in a professional tone. I maintain a lot of spatial awareness, and make sure I’m always standing with my shoulders back, never hiding behind a podium, when I’m addressing the entire team.
3 Your attitude and how you treat your team and their opinions is everything. While you are maintaining that serious demeanor, it’s important to still have a positive attitude towards the process and your team as a whole. It’s also important to respect their individual opinions without letting them steamroll over your own. What I mean is that there may be loud voices on your team, and if that loud voice makes a good point, it’s important to note that. However, if that loud voice makes an irrelevant point, or participates in circular arguments with no foreseeable end, it is important to acknowledge said point without invalidating it, while also shutting it down. Simply, state that the discussion is going nowhere and encourage the team to move forward.
4. Take yourself and your position seriously, so that others do the same. This means timeliness: don’t be late to a meeting and don’t be late for a deadline. This means accountability: hold your team accountable for being on time for meetings and deadlines as well.
While it’s unfortunate that women still need a special how-to guide on being taken seriously in a position of power, throughout my two years of experience, these have been the most helpful tips in my survival guide. Keep your face forward and your ears covered to those who may criticize. You can do anything you set your mind to.
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