Miriam Dean QC took the opportunity to confirm the two most limiting factors impeding the career development of women – in the law or elsewhere – being lack of self belief and lack of self confidence.
Her simple career advice to women: “Be bold”.
Speaking at the Auckland District Law Society’s Catapult Leadership Training workshop this week, one of the career workshops being run by the ADLS, Ms Dean outlined her key tips for women seeking to advance their careers.
Miriam Dean was the first woman partner at Russell McVeagh and the first woman president of the NZ Bar Association, reiterated what had been written in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology by Dr Wiebke Bleidorn, who took a survey of almost one million men and women across 48 countries, to rate themselves in accordance with the phrase: “I see myself as someone with high self-esteem”.
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The study found that, regardless of age, country or culture, men have higher self-esteem than women.
“A lot of the challenges revolve around the personal barriers women put up,” Miriam Dean said. “I didn’t know the ‘imposter syndrome’ existed until about 10 years ago. If I had known that in the early days when I was plagued with self-doubt, it would have made such a difference.”
Toot Your Horn
Miriam Dean explained how to develop confidence, or ‘fake it’.
“Fake confidence, no matter how nervous you are. I used to make a point of wearing bright colours. It takes a lot of confidence to walk into a room in a shocking pink suit. It also got me noticed.”
It was not necessary to be “a woman in male clothing,” she said, but women need to adapt to doing business in a way that suits them.
“I used to dread going to networking functions on the top floor of Russell McVeagh with mostly male clients talking about rugby or cricket. We need to learn how to network in a way more comfortable for women.”
“One of things I say is we have to learn how to toot our horns. You don’t have to blast it like the men, but we have to speak more positively about what we bring to the table.”
Women need to differentiate themselves from men, she told the workshop, which is also being run in Wellington and Christchurch.
Self belief is the key, she says. By believing in yourself, even by ‘faking it’ for a period, you will wind up doing a better job and creating the sort of career you want.
For further details on the workshops go to the ADLS website.
Mentoring “Exceptional Young Women”
Miriam Dean’s own practice involves a ‘Women in Leadership’ page which outlines her desire to help women achieve success in their careers, including her providing mentoring upon application. From the website –
Miriam is passionate about helping exceptional young women become tomorrow’s leaders in their field – whatever that field may be.
She is a member of Global Women, a network which has drawn more than 200 to its ranks since its establishment in 2009. She regularly speaks at events celebrating women and leadership.
Together with consultant Emily Morrow, she presents seminars to women on how to succeed in the legal world. She also works with Catapult to provide women with the tools to further their legal careers.
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