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The most common mistakes that derail a woman’s career

AP/Tina Fineberg
Your ideas are your currency.
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Women don’t negotiate for themselves, which could be the biggest career mistake they make—but there are plenty of others.

In her new book, Nice Girls Still Don’t Get The Corner Office, Lois Frankel, an executive coach and public speaker, has identified 133 errors women make that derail their career. This new edition covers 33% more errors in how women self-sabotage their career from when the book debuted a decade ago.

The number of mistakes has risen in part, said Frankel, from “an increasingly competitive marketplace” that started in 2008 with the recession.

Here are mistakes that Frankel says are common among women everywhere:

  1. Serving as the conscience. Weigh the costs of pointing out minor infractions with the consequences and potential retaliation, she says. You may undercut your career if you act as a whistleblower or don’t learn how to “bend the rules” a bit.
  2. Skipping meetings. Give up the idea that they’re interesting, valuable or worth the time. Instead, they’re time to “meet and greet, or play show-and-tell.” Speak up and use meetings to market your brand and insights.
  3. Giving away your ideas. It happens often: A woman suggests an idea and it’s overlooked. Then a man expresses it and it’s golden. Instead, women need to ask a question after they present their idea such as “Are there any objections to immediately getting to work on this?”
  4. Protecting jerks. Women are “jerk flypaper.  Not only do we attract them more than men do, but we also tolerate them longer,” Frankel writes. Instead, women need to distance themselves from colleagues who behave badly or make work miserable. If it’s your boss, find another job.
  5. Doing the impossible.  Don’t be the miracle worker, Frankel says. When women meet impossible deadlines or deliver on a tiny budget, they’re seen as a worker-bee and given more work. Instead, be more realistic and use the extra free time to build relationships that will help you through your career.

She also warns women not to be invisible or to ask permission—especially for things like vacation days or spending on projects that are well-funded.

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