WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 26: No one will argue that women have made some significant career gains in recent years. But despite these achievements, some key obstacles remain — particularly in the workplace.

Research on women has generally shown that working women still lack role models and mentors for leadership in corporate culture and executive positions for women are still hard to come by.

Women are sometimes overlooked for employment or promotion because of perceptions that that they require more leave to attend to family matters.

Sexual harassment is a very real and persistent problem and often difficult to identify.

Only about 10 per cent of women report their harassment and women in positions of authority are more likely to be harassed than line employees.

Women in leadership roles are seen to have more conflict as their authority is more likely to be challenged than their male counterparts.

Faced with these findings no one can argue that women still encounter very real discrimination and prejudice in the workplace and in our personal lives. 

Yet, women all over the world continue to make a difference in their lives and in the lives of others.

Bermuda is a case in point. We can look around us and see an abundance of women who work tirelessly to be of service to the community, to create opportunities for others and to contribute financially to their households. 

Glass ceilings

So why is it then that so many of us still struggle with glass ceilings, pay inequities and other work place challenges that seem to be connected to our gender? 

Some of this can be attributed to the lower values that are placed on women and our contribution in the workplace, but often we overlook the biggest obstacle to the attainment of our goals — our “GAILS” (Schneider, 2007) which drive the way we choose to confront these challenges and the choices we make to either resolve them or to remain vulnerable.

GAIL is an acronym for:

  • The “Gremlin”, that inner voice that tells us that we are not good enough or we can’t succeed.
    It’s made up of all those hurtful remarks we’ve ever heard about ourselves from others and our past mistakes.
  • The “Assumptions” we make that things never change or improve. They consist of the past failures or unpleasant things that have happened to us that we continue to replay in our heads.
  • The “Interpretations” that we put on things that are happening now based on what might have happened in the past. They prevent us from approaching our challenges from a new perspective and applying creative thinking to resolve our problems.
  • The Limiting beliefs that we hold about life, people and our circumstances that keep us from trying a different approach — or even trying at all.

Sometimes when confronted with challenges in the workplace and our personal lives, we need to step back, do a self reflection and determine which “GAIL” is driving our emotional response to the situation. 

Once we successfully deal with the “GAIL” in our heads, we might discover that other “storm” is only a slight gust of wind in comparison and that we are far more empowered than we believe to overcome the obstacles that confront us.

Dr Eugenie Simmons is the corporate services manager at the Bermuda Post Office and a professional life coach. She can be reached on 297-7726 or emsimmons@gov.bm.