WOMEN

Should Women 'Man Up' At The Office, Or Does Office Culture Need To 'Man Down'?

03/24/2015 04:47 pm ET | Updated Mar 24, 2015

How should a woman try to get ahead in a male-dominated workplace? Perhaps the answer lies less on women "manning up" and more in how businesses value their employees.

Many women confront this tension as they navigate their own upward trajectories in fields where men fill the upper ranks. For some, attempts to convey a vision yet avoid perceptions they are "bossy" or "bitchy" are all too familiar. With only 14.6 percent of executive officer positions belonging to American women, there's no question the workplace could be doing more to extend a welcoming hand to their female workers.

So argues Dana Theus, the founder of InPower Women and InPower Consulting, Inc., who told HuffPost Live on Tuesday that offices are in need of "moving from an either-or kind of culture to a both-and culture" in order to best foster all types of female leadership.

"Collaboration is very valuable, but sometimes being really decisive is also really valuable. Having a culture that not only understands the whole person [but understands] that leadership... is more about being situation-appropriate and about taking advantage of what everyone is bringing to the table," she explained. This, Theus says, is more useful than focusing on simply "the way we are" as individuals, or as men and as women.

Such addresses the conundrum women often face when attempting to convey their skill and commitment -- and whether to appear fervent and aggressive, or subtle and agreeable.

"When you have a culture that really invites everybody to be who they are and bring their best to the culture and do their best for the business, you're going to have a different kind of success. You're going to have a different kind of culture where everybody feels welcome," Theus said.

"It's not easy to accomplish and it's not about manning up or down. It's about doing what you need to be doing at any point in time to be succeeding and knowing what success means to you."

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