Many women feel undervalued at work, isolated or unseen. These feelings grate, and eventually derail careers of women. Perhaps you are one of those women. It may be a surprise to you though that you are not alone. Many women feel like this.

Inge Woudstra

Inge Woudstra

Are women just difficult?

Let's be clear first that women's careers do not derail - as men often say - because women are just moody, under confident or not cut out for the pressure of modern-day businesses. It's because men and women are different, and you just don't get what you need in modern-day organisations. That's not so surprising as organisations were designed for men. Ever since the Romans started organising people it was men who needed organising. No wonder then that organisations are full of features that work especially well for men.

Asking a fish to climb a tree

The problem comes when asking women to be successful in an organisation designed for men. It's like asking a fish to climb a tree. Yes, we can get up, but honestly, it does take time to learn and takes a lot of energy.

Women end up booking themselves on women's leadership training programmes, courses in gravitas, or confidence building and get coaching. Most of what they learn there is about climbing that tree; learning to grow and be successful in a workplace designed for men.

Women are dropping out

But many of us don't get that far. Somewhere along the way we end up feeling like a fish out of the water. We feel undervalued and unseen. That's when we stop trying. We just drop out, start working for a charity, do some volunteering work, plateau in our careers or decide that it's not worth it and the children need us more.

When you do, you lose out. But your organisation loses out too. Organisations tell me that 30-50% of women drop out. That obviously brings a massive cost for organisations.

That cost is completely unnecessary, and it's easy to understand how to change it. See our brain is different from that of men. We see things differently, we interpret things in our own way and we need something else from our manager.

Organisations and line managers need to change

Organisations need to adapt to what women need. Managers need to learn to flex their style so it works for women too.

Men usually thrive on challenges.

They love to get a task, grapple with it alone and then come out on top. When finished they love a pat on the back for the fantastic end result they have achieved.

Women often thrive on a more nurturing approach.

They like to first understand why a task needs doing. Then they prefer it if their manager checks in on them regularly, as it gives them the idea they are valued, and their work is important. At the end they like to be valued for their hard work as well as for end-results.

So no wonder you sometimes feel undervalued. If you have a manager that loves to set you challenges and gives you the space that men would need, you will just feel like you are on your own, no one is interested and no one values your work.

It's time your organisation understood you need something else and creates a workplace that helps you thrive.

Inge Woudstra is the Author of ' Be Gender Smart - The Key to Career Success for Women ' . The book shows how male and female brains differ, and how you can use this to get more confident at work and be seen for what you are really worth.