“Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office: 101 Unconscious Mistakes Women Make that Sabotage Their Careers” by Lois P Frankel Ph.D.
Review written By Danielle Woods RN
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The 21st century is a rather interesting time to be a woman in business. On one hand there seem to be more women in the boardroom than ever before, yet we are still hearing that women earn less and are being promoted at lower rates than men. Dr. Lois P. Frankel poses the question “Is it possible that women have been treated as second class citizens for so long that we actually started to believe it?” In her book “Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office” Frankel explores the concept that as a professional woman wanting to get ahead, we must step back and re-evaluate the way we operate in the work place.

“Understand that it is unlikely that you will change the size of the playing field to suit your needs- playing your game at the edge can help stretch the boundaries.” Predominately female mannerisms, as Frankel refers to them, such as questioning ourselves, deflecting credit, and being warm and friendly in the work place are pitfalls that steal our rightful place at the head of the class. Think instead about how a man might handle a certain situation. Would he help a colleague even if it meant sacrificing himself? Would he feel sheepish about taking a spot at the head of the table? Would he back off if competition with a friend got stiff? No, says Frankel, and we can’t afford to either.

“When a man’s friend wins, a little piece of him dies.”- Lois P Frankel, Nice Girls Don’t Get the Corner Office

The small voice of “should” seems to linger in women’s heads much more often than men’s. We feel like we “should” insist that landing the big account was a team effort, we “should” let senior members of the team sit front and center in a meeting, or we “should” look the other way when someone treats us as less than equal. The author asserts that we must consciously replace the “should” voice with the voice of our wants. What do we want to do with our careers and what will it take to make this happen? Once we have done this self-evaluation, we can begin the work to change traits that aren’t serving us well in the office and better align ourselves for the position we deserve. This, says Lois, will help us cut out the fluff and start making real progress towards our goals.

“There is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think,” she writes.

I have to be honest that I picked up this book for the catchy title and was surprised that it was more hard-hitting than I expected. On one hand, I feel like we have to be very careful not to over-generalize and put all women in the same “soft” category or all men in the “ruthless and cunning” box, but I would be lying if I said I hadn’t seen the activities described in the book firsthand throughout my career. The employee who is willing to advocate for themselves the loudest, make waves, and feel empowered to take what is theirs often is the person who garners the praise and power. For some reason, a lot of the time, this is a male.

I recommended this as a “must-read” because I believe that in light of the continued statistics that prove that women are not treated equally in the workforce, we must all be aware of some of the reasons that may contribute to this. Certainly, we must continue to advocate for equal pay and work to stop clear biases that hold women back, but if this book can help each of us change one trait that is keeping us from projecting a persona more fit for corporate success, I’d consider it a win. I personally feel like I deserve to be the warm, outgoing person I am while still climbing the career ladder, but knowledge is always power and I think this book does a good job of educating us on common thought processes that can trip us up. Here’s to changing the odds together and breaking through glass ceilings in a way that works for each of us.