BBC Capital

Women and work: The new art of getting ahead

  • First to the finish line

    Behind all the fraught discussions about women “leaning in” and “opting out,” there’s a bigger question: how do women who choose high-powered careers get ahead — and how do they beat male contenders to the top executive roles?

    Though women have made huge strides in the workplace globally, men still regularly outpace their female counterparts – in both promotion and pay. But while women once attempted to make their way up the corporate ladder by emulating their male counterparts, today’s successful female executives have found smarter strategies for getting to the top.

    Discover five strategies crucial for scoring plum promotions – and jumping up in salary, and click through the slideshow for other ways women are tailoring tried-and-true career advice to suit their skills and qualifications.


  • The new secrets of networking

    Both men and women know that networking is one of the most important parts of landing a great job or promotion. But do the two genders go about doing so in different ways?

    The research seems to indicate a resounding “yes”. Women tend to form professional networks the same way they form personal networks, based on first-degree knowledge and close connections, with many people within the network knowing each other.

    By contrast, men have networks that are more widely dispersed – which can prove incredibly useful when it comes to casting a wide net searching for new opportunities and getting advice outside of a specific industry. Read more on this networking trick that so many women often neglect.


  • … But it’s not just who you know

    Some people treat networking as a technique to meet new people for the sole purpose of finding a new job or new business opportunities. But London-based networking expert Julia Hobsbawm says that’s an outmoded approach to getting ahead.

    Instead, work on becoming a thought leader in your field, and focus your efforts on sharing interesting knowledge – be that a trend in your industry, a must-see viral video clip, or a book that taught you something unexpected.

    See the type of event Hobsbawm says you’re most likely to make meaningful connections – and why cocktail parties often aren’t the best place to meet new people.

    (Image courtesy Julia Hobsbawm)

  • Portrait of a start-up success

    Tomoko Namba is one of only a handful of female executives to succeed in Japan’s cut-throat startup industry. With a net worth of $545 million, she is the 47th richest person in the country, according to Forbes magazine.

    How did she climb the ladder of success from the position of management consultant to multi-million dollar startup founder? Her path to success was hardly straightforward. Namba “made every single mistake I could think of” at the beginning, she admits, before finally shifting focus – and driving her company to become profitable.

    Read Namba’s success story – and see how she found the courage to strike out on her own – here.

    (Image courtesy Tomoko Namba)

  • Take a cue from Hollywood

    What do celebrities share in common with ambitious career women? The smartest Hollywood stars develop an intimate network of trusted connections – an entourage of sorts who can be counted on to offer a different perspective on obstacles as they crop up.

    The comparison between A-list celebrities and high-flying professional females doesn’t end there. Women also need a primary advocate or sponsor – the career equivalent of a movie star’s agent – to propel them to the next level. A sponsor is someone within the woman’s own organisation who will personally champion for her to move up in the chain of command.

    But there is more nuance to building a support network than meets the eye. From whether touchy questions, including about salary, are ever off-limits – to the crucial difference between a sponsor and a mentor – read on.