Listening to Cathy Bessant, Chief Operations and Technology Officer at Bank of America speak to our all-female group of business leaders at the Tampa Bay Business Journal‘s event called #MentoringMonday, I realized that I am guilty of what she calls “unintentional bias”. My own apparent propensity to do business with men over women.

It’s no big shock to me, really. I realized some time ago that my energy tends to align with the more masculine approach to doing business (while being fully aware of my feminine advantages, both internal and external.) Quite frankly, whereas I probably should have been ashamed, I really just agreed with the statistics and thought, “Yeah, that’s about right.” Cathy reports that 2/3 of men will offer a man a job over a woman. And 2/3 of women will do the same.

Still, in 2017.

While taking part in an event like Mentoring Monday, meant to empower and connect women for collective advancement, this message is a bitter pill to swallow. If not for the fact that I don’t think the bias is exactly that black and white.

If I’m guilty of unintentional bias, I am guilty of preferring to work with fearless risk takers. With the kind of people who have an unabashed confidence in their own abilities to take on any task, whether they have the slightest experience or knowledge thereof. Those who will say, “Sure, I can do that” and know that they can jump in and figure it out along the way. A typically masculine trait, without a doubt. These people will apply for jobs that list mandatory skill requirements that they do not possess, and they will do it without hesitation. And typically, “these people” are men. Nature, nurture, whatever the case may be, men tend to act without overthinking or over-analyzing… especially if it’s something that they want.

As women, if we really want to break through the glass ceiling that we alone perpetuate and pretend to bump our heads against so we can continue to earn less than our male counterparts, we must stop overthinking and making excuses for our own limitations to advance. We don’t need the government to fix the pay gap. We don’t need to wait for outside help to provide a springboard to level the playing field. We need to jump. Embrace fearlessness. Trust our own ability to excel without the crutch of knowing everything in advance. We need to start leaping first into the unknown and learning to fly on the way down. It’s up to you and it’s up to me. If you want that job and you don’t want to be another overlooked female, ASK for that job. Ask and keep in front of the face who makes that decision. Act like it’s yours and take it. Period.

Don’t like that approach? Then continue to wait for opportunities to come to you. Meanwhile, others with less experience and more bravado will continue to grab these opportunities right out from under you. (You know it has happened to you. It has happened to me, too.) Learn from these fearless acts of putting yourself forward. If you don’t promote you, no one will – believe that. Your success is up to you and you alone.

No excuses; it’s time to Man Up and take our rightful spots at the top. Reject mediocrity and play to win.

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