Ask Dr. Job’s chief contributor, Sandra Pesmen, is a member of the Chicago Journalism Hall of Fame and author of “DR. JOB’s Complete Career Guide.”

Winner of several journalism awards, Pesmen is a graduate of the University of Illinois Media College at Urbana, and is listed in several Who’s Who editions. She also has been Corporate Features Editor of Crain Communications Inc., founding Features Editor of Crain’s Chicago Business and a reporter/features writer for The Chicago Daily News.

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Opportunity Awaits Women in Business

WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH IN MARCH marked 100 years since women suffragettes marched on Washington-beginning a march their daughters, granddaughters, and now great-granddaughters have continued for equal rights.

Those women were fighting for the right to vote. Today's women expect that and much more, especially equality with men, and at last they have a chance of getting it.

The gap is closing, says Vickie Milazzo, author of Wicked Success Is Inside Every Woman.  

Just a few years ago it was believed that an "act like a man" mentality was needed for any woman to be taken seriously in business. Today, playing down femininity is no longer necessary. In fact, adds Milazzo, the almost constant changes to the way women communicate, interact, innovate, and do business are setting up an opportunity-filled future for women.

But, she adds, there are some feminine behaviors that can help women succeed in business if only they take advantage of them.
Following are a few:

Women aren't afraid to take action. Whether it's calling the plumber about a faucet leak while dressing your kids and packing your own briefcase...or changing your meticulously-planned sales pitch strategy on the fly because of a client's last-minute request...women aren't afraid to do what needs to be done. Women know success isn't about what you do when things are easy; it's about how you respond when you hit the biggest, nastiest roadblocks.

Women aren't afraid to ask for help. Since they were little girls, most women have automatically reached out to friends when they needed help, advice, company, or a listening ear. That impulse isn't surprising; after all, women are usually more communal and collaborative than men. And because women have often had to fight for everything they've achieved in the business world, helping each other has become a common practice. Smart women know what they don't know and when to seek answers.

Women are highly engaged. Women are the tycoons of commitment. Regardless of their profession, all women are CEOs; i.e., Chief Everything Officers. They manage careers, households, children, meals, shopping, event planning, and more-simultaneously-while doing everything in their power to make sure that not one single ball drops. The "edge" that this type of engagement gives them is a huge asset when channeled professionally. During good times it gives women extra fire, and during bad times it keeps them going when they'd rather throw in the towel.

Women are enterprising.   Most women run a successful combination of a job, education, family, friendships, hobbies, etc. By anyone's definition, that's a complex enterprise! And the ability to keep multiple systems running and multiple people happy is an obvious asset to have in the workplace.

Women are great relationship-builders. Most women want to give their all to every relationship they have, be it with a co-worker, significant other, child, family member, friend, client, etc.-and when they can't, they often feel guilty. Our complex society of family, friends, career, and spiritual and social obligations constantly pulls us in different directions. This bombardment does lead some women to over-commit, but when tempered to a manageable scale, a natural willingness to build relationships set women up for great success today. 

Women understand the power of giving. In business-and life in general-the best long-term strategy isn't to get ahead and stay ahead of everyone else. Instead, it's to partner with others-to give everyone a piece of the pie and build up the people around you-so that everyone has an incentive to win. When you give other people a bit of advice, a word of encouragement, a few minutes of your time, or even a sought-after opportunity, you'll usually see valuable returns.

 "I'm not saying that women are 'better' than men, or that men don't have as much to offer," Milazzo concludes. "That's certainly not the case. What I'm saying is that as the business world comes to value collaboration, participation and relationships more and more, women are going to be able to put their natural skills to work for them. 
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