Is There a Gender Bias in Wellness?

Is there a gender bias in wellness? There may be a leaning one way or the other at a given organization. Here’s why, and here’s what you can do about it.

Listening, communicating, paying attention to detail, following through, and showing empathy — all are vital skills in a successful wellness career. Though not limited to the female gender, these attributes are recognized more in women than men.

Well-being management firms sometimes call our office inquiring about male candidates, especially in male-dominated manufacturing locations where it’s perceived women might struggle with the culture. In these situations, a man often gets the job — even if more qualified women are available.

Gender Bias in Wellness: What Men Can Do

Because of gender bias in wellness, maleness can get your foot in the door, but it won’t help you push it all the way open. When it comes to behavior change, the above traits determine success — whether you’re working with factory or office employees. Consider:

Listening more. Good counselors, successful salespeople, and dynamic leaders listen more than they talk.

Practicing communication techniques. Find out what you’re good at and refine it. Then invest great energy in strengthening your other skills: giving presentations, 1-1 counseling, writing.

Making promises you can keep, then keeping every one. If you gain a reputation for letting things slide, your hike up the career ladder will be a short one.

Take time to digest what your clients — participants, peers, bosses — are saying. Resist the temptation to fix things on the spot; instead, soak a little in the problem and offer suggestions, not black and white solutions.

Showing your concern. Just a few minutes to congratulate a participant on successful changes or express encouragement can go a long way.

Gender Bias in Wellness: What Women Can Do

If you’re working in or applying for a wellness job in a male-centric organization or industry, consider:

Conveying confidence. Know what you know and express self-assurance.

Being liberal, yet genuine with your praise. Men and women like to know their contributions are appreciated, whether that comes from the boss or a colleague; as long as it’s sincere, it feels good.

Being the place where the buck stops. When it’s up to you to make a final determination, don’t shy away. Gather the information you need and be decisive when the situation calls for it.

Don’t assume the traits men need to brush up on above come with your XX chromosomes. Ask those close to you and coworkers how you fare in each area and solicit suggestions for improvement.

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