In a perfect world, professionals would only be looked at in regards to their ability to do a job, lead a team, or execute flawlessly.
But we do not live a perfect world, and we do not just have one image of “a professional.” We have two: male and female.
As the media and corporations alike have ramped up efforts to put women in the same spotlight their male counterparts get, they tend to focus on the differentiating factors as female weaknesses.
For example, researchers consistently study and share how women are treated by male colleagues. And their studies have come up with conclusions that say women have trouble asserting themselves in high-level meetings, or that they can’t cut through the chatter despite being an expert in the topic being discussed. There’s little mention of how these situations are escalated or perpetuated by the men.
While this is certainly important for all leaders to know, harping on some women’s tendencies may only kindle the gender-fueled fire by targeting studies that frame results as female deficits.
Spreading the word about distinctive female qualities that set women apart in the workplace is just as important as calling attention to areas they struggle in. Here are three personal qualities common amongst women—with proof they actually help kick career butt:
1. Emotional Empathy
Empathy is actually a complicated quality that isn’t as black and white as it seems. According to an article published by Psychology Today, “Women tend to be better at emotional empathy than men, in general. This kind of empathy fosters rapport and chemistry.”
For example, having the emotional intelligence to sense how colleagues are reacting can allow a female to step up to the leadership plate when something goes wrong.
2. Prone to Worry
It’s hard to believe that worrying can actually be a benefit, but it can be. Since women produce less serotonin than men and do not recycle it in the brain as easily, they tend to worry more. This probably isn’t new news—but I bet you didn’t consider how that worrying can affect a professional environment.
When it comes to crunching numbers, performing experiments, or setting up complicated projects, the ability to foresee problems is priceless. Therefore, women who tend to worry may have a knack for calling out problems and setting up solutions before disaster strikes.
3. Elephantine Memory
Despite being pretty evenly matched when multitasking, women tend to have better memories than men. Aston University recently proved this fact with a study that showed women can remember something they’ve learned better than men.
While this would certainly impact any career field, it can be an especially potent quality for picking up new scientific processes, remembering programming tweaks, or recalling stats from market research needed to influence subsequent projects.
Obviously, women are all different. However, these are a few qualities common across female personalities that often get spun as weaknesses. For example, remembering little details could be tied to digging up past problems while emotional empathy gets some women labeled as “the crier.”
Luckily, science and the media are starting to consider these qualities for their benefits too. There’s nothing wrong with being a passionate teacher or interior designer, but today’s female teenagers should have the option to funnel their personal qualities into more than creative fields.