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You Should Smile More: How to Dismantle Gender Bias in the Workplace

Published on February 12, 2023

WiS Resource 2

Dawn Hudson, Angelique Bellmer Krembs, Katie Lacey, Lori Tauber Marcus, Cie Nicholson and Mitzi Short call themselves The Band of Sisters. They are six C-suite women that met over a few decades at PepsiCo and now have a collective resume that spans 29 industries. They want to start a new workplace conversation about Inclusive Culture.

Below, on behalf of The Band of Sisters, Angelique shares 5 key insights from their new book, You Should Smile More: How to Dismantle Gender Bias in the WorkplaceListen to the audio version—read by Angelique—in the Next Big Idea App.

1. Please don’t tell me when to smile.

Widely known as a meme, “You Should Smile More” (or less!) is a classic example of well-intentioned feedback that women receive that reflects the narrow band of acceptable warmth women are allowed to express. You might be surprised how often men missed the irony in the title of our book, and said, “Yes you should smile more—that is good advice.”

Other examples like “She’s too emotional” and “She’s not a good fit” speak to the lazy language and vague feedback that keeps women on a tightrope between being assertive but not aggressive, and speaking up without being shrill. That balancing act is exhausting! Let’s give women more room to be themselves and not create an unfair contest between likeability and competence.

2. If you wouldn’t say it to a man, don’t say it to a woman.

Once you know to look for it, you’ll see gendered language everywhere. Be aware of the little words that diminish a woman’s presence, or imply that the female gender is less than. For example, calling a woman a girl in the workplace, as in Did you meet the new girl in accounting? Unless she is 12, this undermines her belonging. Would you say Did you meet the new boy in accounting?

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