Does Gender Play a Role in Product Management?

diversity

Last night I led a discussion at the Product Talks Sydney in relation to the role of gender in product management.

One of the reasons I started thatproductchick was because, as a woman in product management, I felt disconnected from much of the product management discussion and representation. When you search for “product manager” online, for example, overwhelmingly the imagery and language is male.

In my product management career to date, I have encountered both overt and implicit gender bias. With experience (and many mistakes!), I have learned how to be effective and overcome these challenges. As with any implicit behaviour however, they are difficult to identify, navigate and ultimately change. (Any product manager who has explored the role of behavioural economics in service and product design will know how powerful implicit belief systems are.)

Below is a brief excerpt from last night’s presentation, outlining things product managers and leaders can do to to address gender bias and make the product community reflective of the community in which our products and services thrive:

  • Don’t hold yourself back – work outside your comfort zone and take the opportunities that come your way
  • Be explicit about your career aspirations and choices. Ask for and participate in professional development and training
  • Keep real-time records – objective metrics and compliments that you can use in your performance conversation and be prepared substantiate and highlight your achievements
  • Don’t undermine yourself – be quietly confident
  • Watch out for being unfairly assigned ‘office housework’. Be strategic about what you say yes to and what you say no to
  • Know your product portfolio financials and metrics – metrics are hard to argue against; they build your credentials and can bridge divides based on stereotypes or biases
  • Actively engage stakeholders early and frequently – even the tough ones.
  • As a product leader (both women and men), actively hire for diversity and inclusion. Be conscious of your inherent bias.
  • Support your team to work across (and up) your organisational structure

A big shout out to Adrienne and Nick from Brainmates for hosting last night’s event.

You can download a full copy of the presentation: Does Gender Play A Role In Product Management V3.7

 

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