Sorry if I Say Sorry Too Much: Women in Business

As a young female student beginning to navigate the business world, I’ve had to do some critical thinking about who I want to become as a woman in business and what is expected of me. 

From my experiences I have found that women are usually more emotionally intelligent, empathetic, and interpersonally-skilled than men. This makes them great at conflict resolution, working in groups, and leadership. Women bring a unique skill set and perspective to the table because, believe it or not, women in business is a relatively new topic in history.  

Every year, more and more women enter business leadership roles, especially in the U.S. There’s still serious issues including sexual harassment, gender wage gap, and male privilege that need addressing. These issues stem from our hyper-masculine culture and male dominated workplace environment. We need to think critically about where women fit into the equation. There’s a lot of excellent discussion about what women should or should not do in trying to navigate the business world. 

I have gathered an eclectic array of opinions, tips, and advice on how to be appropriate, professional, and respected in the business community from female professors, mentors, and business women, most of which come from their personal experiences.  Everyone’s experiences are valid, and I respect and appreciate their stories. They share what they feel works and what doesn’t in hopes of helping other women be successful. 

For example, you most likely have heard that women apologize more than men and, as a result, appear weak by accepting blame. I know I have heard this many, many times. A lot of women challenge others to not say “I’m sorry” in professional and personal situations when they would normally feel it’s necessary to apologize. It’s actually harder than you would think. I understand that there is a significant gap between male and female apology rates, however, why should women have to be the ones to adjust their behavior? Why do we see gender differences and immediately try to eliminate them at the expense of women? In my opinion, men need to apologize more. 

Women are passionate, caring, and emotional. If they feel something, no one should be suppressing their freedom of self-expression, at work or at home. If you feel sorry, apologize. If you don’t feel sorry, don’t apologize. Don’t let anyone tell you to fight your natural urges to be someone you aren’t in order to fit in and to be perceived well by others. Empathy looks good on everyone. 

In general, I think women are encouraged to act more like men in order to succeed in business, which is actually really sad. Women should be welcomed as they are and should not have to conform to any standards. Our society has identified what a successful businessperson looks and acts like and ―if you couldn’t guess― it’s a man. 

We live in a culture that “tends to value: strength, aggressiveness, competition, achievement, power, and material success. Members of these cultures will confront conflicts more directly and competitively and emphasize conflict strategies that tends to be win-lose” (Hofstede et al, 2010).  

There needs to be more passionate women in business to break through the ice-cold glass barriers of a hyper-masculine field in order to support both men and women in having equal opportunity for self-expression. Women in business are making the business world better, and we all need to take notes.  

Audrey Springman

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