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CAREER VOICES


Pankey said she came across as “very stern.” But as Pankey got to know her through talking to her and learning about her career path, she realized this leader had to “walk a fine line” between being “considered overly aggressive” or “too nice and no one would take her seriously.”


Pankey also shared an example that was given at a workplace and dress code meeting she attended in which a consultant spoke about two individuals — one male, one female and both wearing suits but removing their jackets — entering a room and the impressions people had of them. The assumptions were that the woman was the secretary and the man just left his jacket in his office.


“Those are the type of unforeseen barriers. No one’s going to say that out loud, but those are the type of things that come to people’s minds when you have a male and female in the workplace — even if they are doing the same job,” said Pankey.


Other women have shared that young women beginning their climb up the corporate ladder should develop a “rhino hide” and develop a thick skin to criticisms, upheavals, politics and other negatives that occur in the workplace.


A global supply chain director added that bias goes both ways and rising executives should always seek the best people.


opportunities to make meaningful contributions. “It’s a battle that we face every single day,” she said.


She also recognized the difficulty for women who make it to executive positions.


“It’s very challenging to not be so sweet that you get walked over and not so aggressive that people say, ‘Oh she’s a bitch, she’s so moody,’” she said. “It’s a very fine place and hard spot to be in at times.”


Iesha Pankey, programs subcontracts administrator at Northrop Grumman, recalled her first meeting at the company six years ago and entering a room where all 15- 17 individuals involved in a project were men. It surprised her when the vice president and general manager walked in — a woman.


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“We have to remember males are gender too,” she said. “As we move up in our career, we have to also notice those males who are smarter and can do the jobs as well, not just females. And I think that where we may lose credibility is when we focus just on other women. We have to focus on who’s the smartest and who’s the best and who can accomplish the mission or the goal of the team.”


In the American workplace, there is also the issue of second generation gender bias and how it affects women.


According to the Center for Gender in Organizations, “second generation gender bias includes work cultures and practices that appear neutral on the surface but can result in differential experiences and treatment of women


WOMENOFCOLOR | FALL 2014 15


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