• Sharon Gill

Are You The Invisible Woman?

I love superhero movies. Who can resist a good Batman movie, or Halle Berry playing the role of Storm in the X-men series? I think it was one of the Spiderman movies where the hero comes to the epiphany that his super powers were not just for fun and games. With super powers comes super responsibility. He then embraces his super powers as his contribution to his fellow citizens.

There’s a “super power” that you may have been given, but you probably didn’t ask for it and you definitely don’t want it. It’s amazing how many high level female executives have this power. In this case, the epiphany needed is not to embrace, but rather to reject this unwanted and unsolicited “gift.”

“What is this super power?” you may ask. I’m glad you did. It’s the power to be invisible. It seems that certain alien forces have conspired to make female executives invisible to their peers. It’s the meeting where you make suggestions that are seemingly overlooked, but then they show up as policies or strategic initiatives later. It’s when someone lesser qualified lands a sponsor who can open doors. It’s the woman with her head down, working really hard, but never really “seen.” I found this article in Fortune Magazine very telling: ‘As a psychology professor who studies stereotypes, I’ve examined how people’s brains are biased to ignore black women. When many think about “black executives,” they visualize black men. When they think about “female executives,” they visualize white women. Because black women are not seen as typical of the categories “black” or “woman,” people’s brains fail to include them in both categories. Black women suffer from a “now you see them now you don’t” effect in the workplace.’

But you know the part in the super hero movie, where it looks like all is lost, but the hero digs deep within to pull out the victory. That is what will be required to take a hold of our true God-given powers. We will have to dig within and take the following steps: Make an honest assessment of where you are in your company. Do you feel invisible? Are you overlooked for plum assignments or promotions? If so, you need a plan of action. It’s time to take some affirmative steps to get yourself noticed. A part of this plan will involve pursuing and securing a senior gatekeeper for potential mentorship.

Take these beginner steps and you will soar like a super hero!

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