Episode 8 – Season 2

Published: October 26, 2021

Jill Eaton, Author, Career Coach, and Mentor | Gender Goggles

Jill Eaton, Author, Career Coach, and Mentor | Gender Googles

In this episode, Ian interviews Jill Eaton the author of Gender Goggles: The Vision You Need to Get Promoted, Strengthen Relationships & Love Graciously.

Jill was an IT executive for 15 years and recently retired early to write her book about how gender communication differences can impact our careers and relationships.  

Ian and Jill discuss the book and how the ideas in the book can help bring harmony to the workplace.

Jill and Ian discuss:

  • What are Gender Googles
  • The science behind why men and women think differently
  • How the genders think about teams and hierarchy

 

How to get in touch with Jill

Gender Goggles: The Vision You Need to Get Promoted, Strengthen Relationships & Love Graciously

https://www.linkedin.com/in/jill-eaton-39540a2/

What is inspiring Jill

Daring Greatly: How the Courage to Be Vulnerable Transforms the Way We Live – Brene Brown

Podcast Transcript 

Introduction
Welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Podcast, the podcast for wellbeing professionals that looks at best practices in organisations that care about their people, and which keeps an eye on the growing number of suppliers in the wellbeing space. The Workplace Wellbeing Podcast is sponsored by fastP.A.Y.E a financial wellbeing solution that facilitates flexible salary advances. It also provides access to financial education, a benefits assessment calculator, and a host of other financial wellbeing tools. FastP.A.Y.E is part of the WorkTech Group that includes ShopWorks Workforce Solutions, and SolvedBy AI. ShopWorks offers Scheduling and Time and Attendance tools that improve your workforce management processes, whilst SolvedBy AI provides unique artificial intelligence products that deliver optimum staffing levels and improve employee retention.

Ian Hogg
Hi, and welcome to the Workplace Wellbeing Podcast. I’m Ian hogg, the Chairman of fastP.A.Y.E. Today I’m joined by Jill Eaton, the author of Gender Goggles, the vision you need to get promoted, strengthen relationships and love graciously. Jill was an IT executive for 15 years, and recently retired early to write a book about how gender communication differences can impact our careers and relationships. Having read the book, I think Jill has combined the latest research with the experiences to create an easy relatable book. Today I want to discuss the book with Jill, and how the ideas in the book can help bring harmony to the workplace. Hi, Jill, thanks for joining us. Hi. Listen, I think a really good place to start would be when you tell the listeners a bit about your background and how and why you ended up writing the book.

Jill Eaton
Sure, I’d be glad to, you know, I was mid career and we had decided we were going to create a women in IT affinity group. And as a part of that I was asked to do a presentation on how women could communicate better. So I was doing the research for that. And I stumbled upon this gender information. I thought, wow, that’s really interesting. And so I included a little bit of that in the presentation I did to the women’s group. And they all none of them wanted to talk about the communication piece that I did. Everybody wanted to talk about the gender piece. And so it really I could tell it struck a chord. And I started socialising it with my male leader at the time. And he said, you know, hey, could you give a presentation to our staff. And I did that. And then it kind of went viral. From there, everybody started asking me to do this presentation in the organisation I was working in at the time. And then it got outside the organisation and I started doing presentations at companies and universities and, you know, conferences and that type of thing. And so it, it really seemed to really strike a chord with people. And when I got, you know, when I decided to retire from my IT career, I you know, there were a lot of things I wanted to pursue, but one of the things was I had to get all of this research and information out of my head and write the book. I really think it’s an important topic. And I think it’s something that, you know, I want to have the conversation continue to go. So that’s why I decided to write the book.

Ian Hogg
Yeah, no, listen, having read it Jill. You know what, I think it’s nice and very readable. And but I also think that we you know, first time you read it, you think yeah, this is it’s not obvious, but it’s, it makes perfect sense. And it sort of hits home. So I think that’s probably why you get a good reaction. Because, you know, I’ve pretty much agreed with all the concepts in the book. And you wonder why somebody hadn’t written it before. Really, it’s, it’s one of those sort of subjects. And it’s called Gender Goggles. Okay, so what are you gonna have to translate that for us? What agenda goggles?

Jill Eaton
Well, you know, I came up with the idea of gender goggles, and that, you know, based on our life experiences, we all kind of enter the workplace with a unique view of the world, and especially that that view can be different depending on our gender, where we are on the gender spectrum. And, you know, I wanted to make sure that, that people understood that we’re looking at the same things, but we’re seeing them through a different lens. Another way to kind of look at it is there was a study, the 2019 Lean and Institute did a women in the workplace study. And they surveyed about 68,000 employees and asked them, you know, what was keeping women from making it to top leadership roles. And what was interesting is in that survey, the men said it was because there aren’t enough good candidates. The women said it was because they thought they were being judged by different standards. And then there was another category for the HR leaders, which I thought was interesting, and they thought there just wasn’t enough sponsorship. But it’s an example of we can look at the same issue and depending on our lens, we’re seeing it in a very different way. So that’s why I got the image of goggles, you know, they’re, they’re coloured in a different way, depending on our, how we were raised and many other different items that happened in our life before we got into the workplace.

Ian Hogg
Yeah, no, and I think, you know, me read the book, you sort of build it for the listener, you sort of build from really early experience in childhood and the different way, girls and boys sort of approach games, even as I think you pointed out that even if you try and encourage your, you know, children to play, you know, games that are not necessarily traditional to their gender, you believe they still end up sort of, you know, focusing on the, on the more traditional gender related approach, and that that eventually comes through to the workplace, you know, as a reasonable summary of where the book starts, do you think?

Jill Eaton
yeah, it definitely is, you know, it starts out with the, the impact of our childhood experiences, and I think you, you articulated it, you know, boys tend to play games that are winners and losers, and girls tend to just play, you know, with no end goal in mind. And, you know, boys play in larger groups, girls play in smaller groups. But what, what I think is really interesting about that is when you dig a little deeper, you know, the boys participate with people they like, and don’t like, they’ll just play with anybody, whereas girls only play with people they like, which is significant. And, you know, the experiences that we come away with, from our childhood experiences, is, you know, men tend to have more of a structural hierarchy, they understand how to navigate that they understand how to compete and being aggressive, and they, while they’re friendly to people on the, on the field, they don’t carry those friendships beyond the field. Whereas, you know, girls really only, you know, having played with only those they like, they tend to focus more on interacting with each other talking, sharing feelings, taking turns, building relationships that continue off the field, or, you know, when the play is completed. So, it definitely does make an impact.

Ian Hogg
I suppose the central premise of the book is that those sort of early learnings, you know, on the playing fields, you know, carries through all the way to people’s adult life to work, you know, and I suppose a good question would be, you know, how can those ideas, how can we use those to improve wellbeing and the collaboration at work?

Jill Eaton
Yeah, you know, it’s one of the key concepts in the book is the gender spectrum. So on one side of the gender spectrum, you have the traditional male behaviour. And on the other side, you have the traditional female behaviour. And similar to a personality sorter, you know, like a Myers Briggs, or a big five, or Enneagram, or any of those types of personality sorters, the idea is to understand the behaviour, and understand where you are in that behaviour spectrum. And so that’s really what I’m trying to make people. See, as far as the gender spectrum goes, and so I’m not saying that men need to act more like women or women need to act more like men, it’s more about understanding our unique position. So, you know, if we understand where we are, we can modify our behaviour similar to a personality type of thing to build relationships better with those around us, whether it be our leaders or our co workers. You know, one example I would give is, I’m actually more on the male end of the gender spectrum than the female and even though I was born female, and being aware of where I am on the spectrum has actually really helped me in the workplace and understanding, you know, how I need to relate to people how I need to relate with co workers, in particular, for me with female co workers, because my style is more male, I have to modify it a bit when I’m with other females to build connection. So when I’m trying to build connection, I need to be aware of things that I’m doing to, to modify a little bit on my behaviour. So, you know, just having that understanding does help us modify.

Ian Hogg
Yeah. There’s an interesting chapter in the book about navigating sort of those relationships went between, say, the leader and the employee, and there’s, it sort of covered all the different scenarios. I male leader, male employee, you know, female leader, male employee, and yeah, and I found that quite interesting that, you know, depending on the relationship there, you had sort of, you know, tick lists of things to watch out for and risks and thinks to try and do better. I thought that was interesting. And you know what? Well, what would be you know, you said when we were doing the intro that you sort of done quite a lot, you had all this research that you put you wanted to get out of your head and put them into paper. Yeah, the phrase Gender Goggles, you’ve explained it now, but it doesn’t sound that scientific. But you know, how, how much research has been done into this sort of subject? And what can you share with us on that?

Jill Eaton
Well, you know, the, the research that I found, gender wise, starts way back in the 50s, when they started doing the research, and has changed quite a bit, as you can imagine, up until now. And, you know, I, when I started looking at the research, it’s even changed quite a bit since I started researching the topic. And so I’ve tried to keep very up to date on the latest research, you know, one, one of the things that changes research, just to give an example is the brain science has come a long way, we can now see how our brains are actually lighting up and processing things. Whereas 15 20 years ago, we, we didn’t have as good technology to do that. So now we’re able to see things in the differences in the way that men and women process data that we couldn’t see before. So just to give you an example, you know, the male brain, men tend to process data in one lobe of the brain, like the left side versus the right side at a time, whereas women tend to jump back and forth between lobes and, and the way I like to explain this is with an example of a spreadsheet. So if you had a spreadsheet that had 100 rows and 100 columns, and then it had five tabs of those, you know, a man would take the first tab and process the 100 rows, 100 columns, and then go to the second tab and process 100 rows, 100 columns. And the effect of that is men are very effective at deep problem solving, you know, very deep analytics. Women, on the other hand, if you take that same spreadsheet analogy would start on the first tab, compare some data points to maybe jump over to the fifth tab, get some data points, jump back to the third tab jump, you know, jump back and forth among the tabs to compare and, and bring together disparate data points that are quite unique. And so that jumping back and forth, allows women to have a better ability to multitask a better ability to have a higher degree of memory. But it also allows them just that, you know, jumping, connecting data points, makes them very good at analytics, you know, I’m in the IT field, and analytics is a big deal. But women’s brains are, are built for analytics, you know, they’re they’re bringing in data points that they can connect. Now, I will tell you that there are occasions that women will connect dots that don’t actually connect, but you know, nobody’s perfect.

Ian Hogg
Yeah, this sounds like you’ve just proved my wife’s theory about me not be able to multitask, and actually interesting in the data. And so we you know, you know, fastP.A.Y.E, we’ve got a data and A.I team, and you will, what you might do is a very compelling argument to have both boys and girls in that team. Because you know, it’s all about how you look at the problem, and trying to find different ways to solve a particular problem. And if you’ve just got boys or just got girls, sounds to me, like you do, you’re missing out on half the potential answers.

Jill Eaton
Absolutely, you don’t, one of the other areas that shows up with the brain science, what you wouldn’t actually think of it this way, is in decision making. So men tend to get less input in their decision making, and women tend to get more. And if you think about it, it makes sense, you know, the getting more input, it would lower a man in the hierarchy. So anytime you’re asking for help asking for directions, getting help, or getting more input that would get a perception of lower in the hierarchy, but women not really caring that much about the hierarchy are you know, looking for data connection, so more data is actually better. If you’re looking, if your brain is you know, seeking connection and seeking more data points. The unfortunate part of that is the downside for you know, getting more data is obviously you can be misperceived as being indecisive or needing validation, which is not necessarily what the female brain is desiring. It’s really desiring connection of those data points.

Ian Hogg
Now, I think that’s, that’s a valuable lesson, I think we are all being coached now to suit business and a more modern way to approach businesses, even us, men are, are trying harder to take in, in more inputs. But I agree, what you say is, you know, the natural reaction is to make a decision, just the very word says, you know, I’m going to make a dish, I’m going to decide, you know, so I think that’s definitely how a lot of men would look at that. That word. In the book, you outline some, some foundational concepts, you know, right at the beginning, and discuss how, you know, yeah, I think we were just sort of discussing that there really, are men and women approach things differently. And I said, set the book up, well, I wonder if you could just take the listeners through some of those foundational concepts, so that they, you know, if they haven’t read it, they get a better understanding of some of those basics?

Jill Eaton
Sure. Well, one of the concepts, one of the basic concepts is also the concept of team. So you know, a team player, if you ask a man what their definition of a team player is, you get, sometimes you get an answer, that’s something like a team player is someone who knows the role on a team and plays it well. You know, think about, you know, say a basketball team, where, you know, you’re gonna, you know, that, if you got LeBron James on your team, you’re going to get the ball of Braun, if it’s at a, you know, a critical moment in the game. So there’s a hierarchy, you know, a good team player understands their role where they fit in, and they perform their role. Well, now, if you were to ask women, there, you get a definition that’s more like a team players willing to do whatever is needed to support the team. So there’s really no evidence of that hierarchy. And, you know, they’re willing to do whatever it takes to benefit the team, not necessarily what they do best. And, you know, they may actually even wear several hats. And so that, that concept of team is, is quite different. And what, what we see is that, you know, if you have a group of men that are just standing around, you will often observe them. I’ll call it one upping one another. So they may be saying, Well, did you see this? Well, yeah, but I did this thing that was better. And so there’s kind of a one up thing that happens. And it’s both in the workplace and in, you know, in their personal life. But when you when you observe women, they will actually purposely lower themselves for connection. So let me give you an examples to try to illustrate that point. I was at a work event, and it was an all day event. And they, they told us to go burn some steam and take a break. And they sent us to a video game room where we were told to just go play video games. So it was an arcade and I you know, I went in there and one of the guys was already there playing a downhill skier game. I don’t know if you remember these, but it was the old school, you stand on the thing, and you actually do the motions. He’s like, hey, Jill, come over here, you know, I, I can kick your ass at this game is basically what he said. And I’m like, okay, so I go over there, and I start playing. And of course, he’s bad. I’m bad. We’re both really bad at this game. You know, nobody knows how to play this game. But then one of my female colleagues walks up. And she, I say to her, Hey, come join us. And she’s like, Oh, no, I’m not any good at this game. And I said, Well, you can’t be any worse than me, look how bad I am at this game. And what I was doing there was lowering myself so that she would feel comfortable to join in and become part of the team that we were, you know, as we were playing right there. Now, you know, it’s kind of a silly example. But if you think about it, you know, when we’re doing that, when we’re we’re actually diminishing our own talent, if you will, to make someone feel comfortable. It’s not because we’re not confident. And there could be a perception that the, you know, you’re not very confident will in fact, the woman who walked up and, you know, said, Oh, I’m not very good at that game, is one of the most confident people that I know. And so it’s just interesting in the Linguistics of what we were saying is we’re trying to build connection by making ourselves not look that good. Whereas men try to get people to join by competing and saying, Hey, I, you know, I can, I can beat you. So it’s a really different approach. And it can lead to misperceptions in the workplace, you know, when you’ve got that difference in behaviour, and then difference in how the whole team interacts going on.

Ian Hogg
And if we go back to the sort of workplace so let’s suppose I’m an employee. Well, I am Yes, I’m part of the company. And we’ve got boys and girls. And I’ve read the book. So I now know there are there are differences in the way the genders look at particular problems and hierarchy. What can I do about it? How can I, you know, what approaches could I take to, to, you know, take advantage of these differences, rather than see them create conflict or difficulties? What can I do in my workplace to improve wellbeing?

Jill Eaton
Well, you know, I think it’s important that we, that we actually have a conversation, I, I think there’s a couple things, you know, for employees, for me and my co workers, what’s really important is that, you know, to increase Wellbeing in the organisation, we need to all have good relationships. So what we need to understand is how to best relate with that one other person. So you know, don’t, I would say, for the individual, it’s not, let’s try to recreate, you know, something in the environment, it’s more, how do I relate one on one with that person, so how can I best relate to my boss is my boss more on the male end of the gender spectrum, or the female end of the gender spectrum? Just a quick example, you know, I mentor, a young man who he’s on the female end of the gender spectrum, and his boss is on the male end of the gender spectrum. And so when I was talking with him, I was actually coaching him, I’d actually kind of flip the script a little bit, to, you know, to coach him more as I would coach a female and coach, you know, to approach his boss more like he would approach a male. So it’s really kind of understanding where you’re at, and understanding what modifications were adapting, you might need to do to interface with that one other person to be more effective with them. Now, if that person is your boss, there are, you know, there are some very specific things you may need to do. You talked about that chapter. Where understanding what concerns you might need to be aware of with your boss. And so for the individual, it’s that now for, you know, for the HR professionals and the leaders in an organisation, I think there’s more of a responsibility for them to create an environment where this dialogue can happen, where, where they actually see some of the dynamic and understand that, you know, if someone, if you’re playing, you know, like the playing the game example, if the person is low, if the two females are lowering themselves for connection, they can actually recognise that. The, let me give you another example is I had a very, a very, very good male boss mid career. And I, you know, I attribute to the fact that I got to the executive levels because of him. And I was actually in a meeting where we were doing performance evaluations in the organisation. And he was leading the meeting, and I was one of the leaders, and there were several other leaders there. And we were talking about the top talent in the organisation and who we were going to promote and how we were going to, you know, make movement. And one of the females top talents came up, and that person’s leader said, Well, I’m just not sure she’s assertive enough or confident enough. So I think we need to give her one more roll before we put her in this leadership role. And my boss challenged him and said, Okay, you make sure that you develop her over the next year. And then we’ll revisit this next year. And I was actually there the next year when we came back, and he said, Okay, here’s this person, we’re going to revisit where they were. And that person’s leader Again, Said, I think she probably still needs another role. I’m not just not sure if she’s ready yet. And to his credit, the leader, my overall leader said, You need to just put her in the role and see what happens. Because he recognised that the person was hedging, but didn’t really have strong examples of what was holding this person back there was just a kind of a hesitancy. And so I think, you know, the challenge is to the leaders in the organisation to say, hey, if you’re a leader of leaders, and you’ve got a leader, that is hedging a bit on an employee, whether they’re male or female, doesn’t matter if they’re, if they’re not giving specific examples on what’s holding that employee back, that it’s really important that, you know, they challenge them and try to get to what’s driving it because, you know, I talk a little bit more about women, but even men, especially men that are more on the female end of the gender spectrum, will get the same kind of treatment, as far as I’m just not sure they’re ready yet and you don’t want is really articulating what specifically they need to do to get to that next level. So it’s really about challenging them to get very specific. And it’s sometimes if it’s just a sense of unease, just taking a chance on someone. And that that female leader that I was telling you about that they took a chance on. She’s now on the C suite. So

Ian Hogg
I might be not very assertive, but it still gets it done. Probably. He’d probably still be saying the same thing. You know, she should not be the CEO. That I think I’ve seen that.

Jill Eaton
Yeah. So I think it’s just, you know, it, like I said, for the individual, it’s about how do I build better relationships? And but for the leaders and HR professionals, it’s how do I build the environment? How do I make sure that we’re not making assumptions about people’s behaviour, especially with wishy washy things like confidence and assertiveness and that kind of stuff?

Ian Hogg
Okay, no, good answer. I think you mentioned that you have some, you’re doing some mentoring? Do you mentor employees or leaders? Or both? What sort of work do you do people?

Jill Eaton
Actually, I, I mentor people all the way from high school students up to executives, just depends on you know, at different times in different organisations, I actually do different types of mentoring. But most of my mentoring lately has been with young professionals. So I’d say in the 20 30 type range.

Ian Hogg
Okay, so you’ve seen both sides of the equation, you’ve seen the leader, who is learning to take advantage of this sort of findings in your book, and you’re presumably seen mentees that are trying to grow up the corporate ladder, but maybe got some frustration with, with, you know, some of the obstacles in the way is that, is that a fair assessment of what you do? It is yes. Okay, this is, this is a fascinating subject, I think we could go on and on and on. And, and it sounds like that’s the reaction you got from the book in the first place, which is why you ended up publishing it. But it just as we move on, there’s one last question I just want to ask which I ask everyone, and that’s what book or media is giving you most inspiration at the moment and why.

Jill Eaton
You know, recently I went back and reread Brene, browns, daring greatly. I love all of Brene Browns work on you know, vulnerability and that type of thing. And that, that always her work always inspires me. And I would say the other one that I read and actually re-read it when I was writing the book was the Confidence Code. And it talks about, you know, how to project confidence in what you’re doing. And, you know, even if you project overconfidence, that’s, that’s not a bad thing. So so it that I would say both of those have been really good reads and I find

Ian Hogg
I should take a look at both I’ve not they’re not the two I’ve not read, I should take a look and I should make sure there’s links in the in the programme notes for the listeners to take a look at those two books. Alright, listen, Jill has been great conversation. I think, you know, I think I’ve learned quite a lot by reading the book and I’ve learned more by talking to you on the podcast. Thank you very much for coming on and sharing your thoughts and listeners, I’d recommend you take a look at the book gender goggles by Jill Eaton , thank you very much.

Jill Eaton
Thank you very much.

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