The French government's "Leadership Pour Elles" app teaches women how to be confident in the workplace.
You’re a woman in a French workplace and you think you deserve a pay raise, but how do you go about getting one?
A) Ask for one.
B) Ask for one and cry if you don’t get it.
C) Don’t ask for one but expect the boss to know you want one.
D) Don’t ask for one, then moan when the alpha male sitting next to you, who insists on calling you “chérie,” asks and gets one.
OK, it’s a made-up dilemma, but not an entirely alien one for many French women, who are notoriously shy about asking for more money.
Now the French Ministry for Women’s Rights has published a helpful smartphone and tablet app to cover workplace conundrums for women and help them climb their chosen career ladder.
The “Leadership Pour Elles” application, launched on Monday, France’s “Equal Salary Day,” is described as an “unusual, practical and free tool to help women progress in their careers” by offering them “simple, efficient, detailed advice.”
This is France, however, where even iPhone applications are philosophical – and before I start I have to know myself better with the help of a “self-diagnosis quiz”. It wants to know if I can act like a leader; do I surround myself with a good team? Do I know how to boost my career, to network? Do I have enough self-confidence? Can I learn, create, set up a business? (Do I even want to?)
France is to be congratulated for having a women’s rights minister, and a proactive one in Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, and there is a serious side to this. French women earn, on average, 25% less than their male colleagues; only 23% of French stock exchange company board members are women; and only one in seven or thereabouts of France’s 36,500 mayors are female. In the Assemblée Nationale only 155 of the 577 MPs are women.
Legislation to tackle this is on the cards, but in the meantime we’ll have to make do with this app, which Vallaud-Belkacem describes as “coaching for women.”
I am an “apprentice leader,” the app decides. I must learn to count to three before responding to a question or suggestion to show I’m thinking, to use silence to defuse situations and to spend 20% of my working day networking, to be “moderate” in my choice of clothes and body language, develop an “amiable smile,” keep calm, recognize emotions in myself and others but not be “sentimental”. Finally, if I want a pay raise, I have to ask.
“Salary rises and promotions won’t happen automatically like good school marks, when you have worked hard,” it counsels. “A manager tends to give priority to those who ask. Women don’t ask often enough.”
So here goes. “Hello, is that the Guardian? … How much are you paying me? … Oh, OK?” Puts phone down. Weeps.