The Fix: Overcome the Invisible Barriers That Are Holding Women Back at Work - by Michelle P. King
(Book Review by Julie C. DeCuypere)
Are you tired of reading books that make you feel like you alone are responsible for navigating your career advancement in an inadequate and inoperable workplace? Of course you are! The good news is that “The Fix” is not going to tell you to speak up and smile more in order to get a raise and excel in your career. This book is going to challenge men and women alike to finally realize that corporate culture inequalities do not serve women and minorities and we need to take a stand to make changes.
Michelle King’s book deftly breaks down the reasons why women are not getting ahead in the patriarchal workplace culture and outlines steps to fix the problem. Citing leading research studies, King brings to light the insidious problems of gender denial, white privilege, and the meritocracy myth.
King’s own PhD research unearthed gender denial at the highest levels in organizations when she asked the question “What are the barriers to women’s advancement at work?” In nearly every interview with senior male leaders, she received the same answer, that they didn’t think there were any barriers for women or that the barriers were ‘natural’ reasons such as women taking time off for Motherhood. She began to realize that, in fact, the greatest barrier women face at work was actually the culture of denial. How could changes be made when no one thought that changes were necessary?
At the heart of “The Fix” is a deep dive into the Three Career Stages of Women, the barriers present in each phase, and The Fix for each of these barriers:
- The Idealistic Achievement Phase: Six Invisible Barriers from Graduate to Manager (ages 24 - 35)
- Conditioned Expectations
- Matching Women to the Male Standard of Success
- The Conformity Bind: Fit In or Forget It
- The Confidence/Competence Catch-22
- Performance and Pay Inequality - aka, the Performance Tax (THE FIX: Be Transparent About Pay and Promotion Decisions) Research conducted by Accenture in 2018 reveals that in cultures of equality women are likely to earn up to 51% more.
- Support Your Sisters: Use What You Know to Lighten the Load
- The Pragmatic Endurance Phase: Balancing Management and Motherhood (ages 36 - 45)
- Negative Gender Norms
- Role Conflict: Manager or Mommy?
- The Part Time Penalty
- The Motherhood Tax
- Carrying the Mental and Emotional Load
- The Reinventive Contribution Phase: Six Invisible Barriers Women Leaders Face (Ages 46 - 60+)
- Access to Quality Leadership Opportunities
- Stereotypical Typecasting
- Identity Conflict: Leading Like Women (THE FIX: Identify, Enable, and Embrace Different Identities at Work) It is in a corporation’s best interest to work towards equality. White male leaders alone cannot provide the innovation and creativity needed for the future.
- Backlash: Influencing Without Authority
- Isolation: In-group Favoritism
- Legitimacy: From Token to Trophy
“The Fix” is a fantastic read. A rallying cry backed by solid research that confirms what you have long suspected, that you didn’t create the problem, and it is not up to you alone to fix it. Discrimination in the workplace is real.
“Women persist, despite a system set up to ensure that they don’t” - The Fix, pg 219
Michelle P. King - Bio
Michelle Penelope King is a global expert on culture and equality at work. She is an author, podcast host, writer, TEDX speaker and thought leader who helps companies and leaders build belonging at work. Michelle is the founder of Equality Forward, a global consultancy that provides leaders with the assessment, development, and inclusion coaching needed to build cultures of equality at work. In addition, Michelle is a Senior Advisor to the UN Foundation’s Girl Up Campaign, where she leads the NextGen Leadership Development Program, which enables young women to navigate and overcome the barriers to their success. She also heads up a global Leadership Inclusion Academy with Berkeley Executive Coaching Institute.