Standing Strong

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My name is Maria Rua Aguete and I am Senior Research Director at OMDIA. As I look back on my career, I realize one thing: I got to where I am by speaking loudly…and not taking “no” for an answer.

I completed my MBA in Cardiff when I was 21 years old. As a woman getting ready to break into the working world, I focused my graduating thesis on a simple question: “are women disadvantaged in managerial positions?” As I put together my research, I realized the sad truth that it was most certainly the case.

In looking at my career and progression through the business world, I have realized that things have improved today but, also, that women still face many challenges. And, if you are a women reading this, that you should expect to face discrimination sometime during your career. With that in mind, I have put together some tips on how to deal with that and, most importantly, how to keep your head held high so that you can continue to push forward. And, if you want some inspiration, I suggest that you pick up Sun Tzu’s The Art of War. This is my second favourite book, full of wisdom from which you can draw inspiration as you encounter discrimination in your career. And don’t worry, it’s a very short book!

Tip #1: Just Because You Are Told Something By One Person Does Not Make It True

When I have encountered unfair, negative opinions of me or my work during my career, I have often felt as if I was being crushed by the entire workplace. Of course, that isn’t true. Most often, those opinions are from just one person. But when that one person is someone you want to admire and respect, such as a manager or colleague, it can be even more devastating. As a woman, that situation is made even worse when the person providing the criticism is a man. But that’s what you have to recognise: one angry man is just that, one angry man. You have to balance your desire for admiration and respect with the face that it’s only a single man making those comments. Perhaps having his admiration, respect, and even friendship is not something that you want or need.

Tip #2: Recognise When You Are At A Disadvantage And Be Patient.

This tip is inspired by Sun Tzu’s saying, “never engage an enemy in a superior position.” This translates to a more modern phrase, “pick your battles.” You don’t have to fight every little battle against every man who tries to push you down. You need to evaluate each battle within the bigger picture of the war. Learn when fighting back hard will make you worse off. When fighting a smaller battle will make it harder to win the larger war, it may be better to retreat, lick your wounds, and wait for the next battle. Remember: the idea is that you will lose many battles, but in the end, win the war.

Tip #3: Build A Support Network By Being Easy To Work With

Often discrimination, workplace bullying, or gaslighting is subtle. Noticing that it’s happening is the first step. But knowing how to react is the second. If people only hear about an issue you have when you are exploding with anger, developing a support network will be challenging and many in the organization, even those who might be sympathetic, may see you as “difficult to work with.” Remember that people may not really know if your anger is about the first issue or a history of issues. If they think it’s just one, isolated incident, they may see you as the unreasonable party. Instead, when you have an issue with a male colleague, speak up immediately but without anger. Make sure people know what the incident was about and who was involved. By making people aware of the issues, you can have frank conversations about how you, and perhaps other women, are being treated in the office. Of course, if it’s an isolated issue, it may simply go away. But if it isn’t, this strategy of documenting the issue in a professional manner may find  you more friendly ears willing to help.

Fight Hard For What You Believe, Defend Your Views With Your Heart, And Never Apologise

Women need to support each other within the workplace as much as we need the men to realize when their actions, behavior, or words demean us. But having passion is different from being passionate. You should always believe in your right to be treated equally, but know when you need to address instances with anger and when they need to be addressed differently. If we, as women, can all come together with this in mind while holding this fight in our hearts, we can be a powerful force for change within the workplace. If we listen to each other, if we help each other understand when to be really vocal and when to be patient, we can make meaningful change together. Because sometimes we will be wrong about our interactions with male colleagues and if we are prepared to adjust or views and perspectives, to provide advice and assistance to other women, we can move forward in our careers with our heads held high.

Maria Rue Aguete
Senior Research Director at | + posts

Maria is a skilled media and entertainment executive, with extensive contacts and strong relationships with broadcasters, studios, telcos, and media companies worldwide. She currently leads a team of analysts tracking the evolution of media companies globally and leads the Consumer Research around Vídeo, TV, Devices, Media & Usage. Maria joined media analyst firm Screen Digest in May 2000, where she formed and launched the Television research team before it was acquired by IHS Markit (and now part of #InformaTech). She is responsible for leading OMDIA's media and entertainment team’s strategic development and managing its day-to-day operations. Maria has collected many accolades throughout a storied career, and she is one of only 11 Technology Fellows named by IHS Markit during her time at the company, an honor which acknowledges her deep expertise and exceptional standing within the analyst community. Maria holds a first class degree in economics and business studies from Vigo University in Spain, and an MBA from Cardiff Business School in Wales. She is a regular speaker at events such as IBC, SportsPRO, and Mobile World Congress.

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