Advice & insights: masterclasses from industry leaders

Achieving Career Bliss: Kathy Caprino’s Advice for Women in the Workforce

Kathy Caprino

Kathy Caprino

Career & Leadership Coach

Key Takeaways

  • Research Company Culture: Vet potential employers for their genuine commitment to gender equality and DEI by reviewing employee feedback and leadership profiles.
  • Inquire About Culture: Ask insightful questions in interviews to understand the company’s stance on DEI and support for employee growth.
  • Address Gender Bias: Avoid discussing salary history and instead focus on expected salary ranges based on research and your qualifications.
  • Showcase Leadership Skills: Highlight leadership experiences and skills, especially in fields where women are underrepresented.
  • Network Effectively: Overcome isolation by actively networking, seeking mentorships, and sponsorships to advance your career.
  • Discuss Leadership Aspirations Confidently: Share your growth visions in interviews, demonstrating your potential for leadership and alignment with the company’s future.

Addressing Gender Inequality in Professional Settings

In today’s professional landscape, women face unique challenges that can hinder their career advancement and quest for equality in the workplace. From navigating gender biases to securing leadership roles in male-dominated industries, the hurdles are real and persistent. Kathy Caprino, a renowned Career & Leadership Coach and advocate for women’s success, addresses these pressing issues in our upcoming Q&A. Kathy offers actionable insights on identifying companies that truly embrace gender equality, strategies for discussing leadership aspirations effectively, and proven networking techniques for mentorship and sponsorship. Join us to explore practical solutions that empower women to break through barriers and achieve their full career potential, turning obstacles into opportunities for growth and advancement.

“There are numerous ways to vet a company and its culture, regarding not only its outwardly stated views about gender equality and diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) overall, but more importantly, its actual behavior, values, enforced policies, ways they address bias (conscious and unconscious) and other aspects of treatment of women and other underrepresented groups.

It’s vitally important to do your own research and in-depth assessment to understand what the living, breathing work culture is, before you accept any job.

Gender and other forms of bias that negatively impact employees are enacted both consciously and unconsciously, and organizations need to be doing their part to recognize and counteract bias.

Some other key ways to vet a company culture are:

  1. Conduct research via job review sites, and assess what employees are saying: A few great sites for folks to understand how various work cultures treat women include In Her Sight.

    Other helpful sites include: 
    • Glassdoor
    • Comparably
    • Vault
  2. Review the job posting with a close, careful eye: Look carefully at the wording of the job postings, for anything that gives you pause, perhaps in tone, the way the role is positioned, gender-biased language, inclusion of remote work possibilities and other key benefits, and more.
  3. Reach out to your colleagues who have worked there or know people who have (use LinkedIn to help you with this): Ask your colleagues and friends if they know firsthand about the organization and if so, ask them to share candidly what they know and have heard.
  4. Find the LinkedIn the profiles of the leadership team as well as any media and other published interviews and material that the leaders have shared: Look at what they’re sharing regarding their own thought leadership, the values and processes they support (or don’t support), the initiatives that they’re engaged in, etc. for a sense of their top priorities and personal perspectives.
  5. Think deeply about the leadership values and traits you want to see in the leadership and managerial team in your next job.”

“Generally, in your interviews, I’d recommend that you first focus keenly on understanding what the role entails, the key outcomes that you’ll charged with generating, the types of growth and learning opportunities that are possible, and other departments and people you’ll be working with, etc. to successfully execute your role. You’ll also want to understand the traits that help people thrive in their roles, teams and work culture. Assess the job and role and its requirements as best you can then check in with yourself about if this role and company “feels” right and is a strong fit for what you want in the next chapter.

Understanding the culture is an important part of that, and you can ask a number of questions (after discussing the specific role in depth) to explore culture. But I’d recommend avoiding asking questions that get at information that you can easily access online, such the leadership team’s gender, race, etc.

Instead, use your important face-time and talk-time with the hiring manager and HR manager, to dig into more nuanced questions which may include: 

“Can you please tell me a bit about the culture here? What would you say are the top values and priorities?”

“Is DEI important to the organization? I’d love to hear more about that.”

“Are there any new initiatives having to do with the key processes (identifying top candidates, hiring, promoting, training, etc.) that are being focused on now?”

“How does the company support professional growth and development for its employees?”

“Is there a particular management style that is most prevalent here?”

“What would you say are the top commitments that HR and the leadership teams have right now, and what is their primary focus?”

“One key issue regarding gender bias involves the historic wage gap between men and women.

To counteract and rectify this gap, salary history questions are now legally banned in numerous U.S. states.

Here’s more information:

Stay away from discussions about what you currently earn if you can, and talk about the salary range that you’re looking for in the next role.

As mentioned below, engage in strong competitive salary research to arrive at a salary range that reflects both the lowest number that you’ll accept, and also includes the highest level you’re looking for, that accurately reflects your great experience, training, credentials, and demonstrated success you’ve had in previous roles and your readiness to take on more.”

“It’s essential to be very clear on what you believe your salary range should be, based on competitive data and metrics available on the type of work, experience and level you’re at and are moving toward. This should not be a “guess” but well-researched, with key information that supports your requested range. You’ll want to find and examine competitive salary information on sites like,, Bureau of Labor Statistics, etc. as well.

Conduct in-depth research on what you consider “ideal job” postings online and via Career sites, LinkedIn, and the top 20-30 companies that you’d love to work for, to understand the salary ranges that are offered for roles that you feel you’re a strong fit for.

In addition, ask colleagues and mentors whom you trust, and who are in the know about hiring in your specific field, for as much information as possible on the salaries and compensation packages that are being offered for the work you’re doing.”

Leadership and Career Advancement

“Active networking is an essential step for our career and leadership advancement, but so many women aren’t engaging in it today. Based on my latest book “The Most Powerful You: 7 Bravery-Boosting Paths to Career Bliss“, and my qualitative and quantitative research in the past decade, a staggering 71% of professional women (and 77% of women between the ages of 18 and 24) are “Isolating” from influential support” which is what I call Power Gap #4 of the “7 damaging power and confidence gaps” that negatively impact 98% of professional women today, blocking them from reaching their highest and most fulfilling career potential.

To achieve anything of merit that we’re truly proud of, we need other people – including their support, contribution, guidance, ideas, critique and questions, help and inspiration. Yet so many women stay “in the same room” in their networking, afraid to stretch out of their comfort zone and reach out to higher level individuals or build helpful mentorship relationships as well as connections with “sponsors’ –mentors who also have power, influence and clout to open doors for us that we cannot on our own.

“First, I’d say that regarding fear of sounding “too forward” when we talk about our growth aspirations – this is something I work on with my female career and leadership coaching clients every single day.

I recommend that we work through this fear and ask ourselves, “Would a man be afraid of sounding “too forward” in talking about his leadership visions and aspirations?

Women need to “find brave” and move beyond limiting stereotypic gender identifications and roles, and start to embrace who they really are – with clarity, confidence and authenticity.

For instance, the traditional female gender stereotype, particularly in patriarchal systems where men are the dominant culture (as is true at senior leadership levels in corporate America) is that women need to be (or are expected to be) “soft, malleable, pleasure, accommodating, not overly assertive or confident.”

This is an outdated and limiting stereotype. Women need to do their part to step out of these rigid roles and embody who they really are and who they want to be going forward.

Yes, society still often supports and upholds damaging stereotypes for both men and women (for an in-depth look at this, check out my Finding Brave podcast interview with Mark Greene on “Healthy Masculinity and The Battle Against Man Box Culture”).

But I’ve seen firsthand over my 40 years of work experience (as a senior corporate executive, then therapist and now in 17 years of career and leadership coaching over 20,000 professionals across 6 continents), that when each of us can step beyond these limiting beliefs, roles and stereotypes – that’s when our lives truly transform.

About how to discuss your leadership and professional growth visions, one can say something like:

“I’m very exited about this role as you’ve described it and think I’m a truly strong fit for it, and it would be very rewarding and exciting to take on!”

“I’d also love to share a bit about where I hope to take my career in the future, and see if those visions feel like a fit for how you envision the role, company and the potential growth that’s possible here.”

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