Every organization has a set of unwritten rules. Which executives to butter up, how late to stay at night, or whether it’s okay hit on your co-workers. While such quandaries apply to men and women equally, there a few situations women face that underscore their “otherness.”
These rules differ from institution to institution, said Laura Sabattini, director of research at Catalyst, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding opportunities for women in business. Mentors and sponsors help with these issues, but suppose you haven’t established that rapport yet?
We spoke to industry experts, current and former professionals and career coaches to help you navigate five challenging scenarios women sometimes face in the workplace.
1. What if you aren’t a big drinker?
You’ve just finished a deal and the team wants celebrate. A senior executive buys a round of tequila shots and you’re wondering what to do with your still-full shot glass.
“Socializing outside the workplace is an important way to further your career,” said Lois Frankel, career coach and author of the forthcoming “See Jane Lead: 99 Ways for Women to Take Charge at Work.” “With that said, it doesn’t mean you have to close down the bar.”
In fact, as a woman, it’s best not to drink as much as your male cohorts, simply because most women can’t tolerate as much liquor. The ideal situation is for you to show you’re willing to have fun while remaining as close to sober as possible. Don’t call attention to the fact that you don’t want to join in the merry-making. Simply order a drink that looks clear and if people ask, say it’s a gin and tonic. Or, if you’re sharing a bottle of wine, sip one glass — no one will notice that you haven’t refilled it.
One female analyst said she struck up a rapport with the bartender. While surreptitiously slipping him a generous tip, she asked him quietly to only use a third of the alcohol he would normally put in her drink every time the team came to the bar that night.
However, if one of your superiors offers to get you a drink, don’t turn it down. “You wouldn’t be seen as a team player if you didn’t accept,” said Nina Godiwalla, a former