Women taught how to climb ladder

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The Independent Online
HELP is on the way for women managers struggling up the corporate careers ladder.

The Institute of Management and Cranfield School of Management have instituted new courses to help women to maximise their skills and to take up positions of greater


According to the IoM's research, the biggest hurdles for women managers are men. To succeed, they often feel they have to be better than male competitors.

The institute's 'New Assertive Woman Manager' course teaches women how to say no without causing offence, give and receive criticism without being defensive and handle conflict. Its 'Freedom to Achieve' course, meanwhile, is designed to increase the effectiveness of women who feel they have not realised their full potential.

The Cranfield School of Management has been running programmes for women at British Telecom for seven years. Its new course, run twice a year, will be open to women managers from any company who show the potential to go on to greater things.

'This is not a women's issues programme,' says Kim James, the programme director. Subjects tackled include managing energy, managing character, assertiveness, political sensitivity and building a positive image. Although the same psychological approach is taken in mixed-sex programmes, Dr James says women tend not to let their guard down when men are present as well. On a single-sex course, they can talk about issues such as childcare outside the sessions and they will have a ready-made support group after the programme where they can discuss the introduction of ideas into the workplace.

Cranfield does not use case studies and relies on women's own experience as managers. Dr James says it is important for women to look at themselves in depth and answer questions about their personality and character. If accused by colleagues of being aggressive, is it simply because they are women or are they being aggressive?