SAN ANTONIO — Too many people float through their careers instead of actively steering themselves toward success. It’s never a good idea, but the effects are especially negative for women, according to a speaker at MCAA’s 2018 annual conference.

Audrey Gallien, a senior director of business development at Catalyst, a New York nonprofit that works to make workplaces friendlier to women, spoke to the Mechanical Contractors Association of America’s Women in the Mechanical Industry March 27. Her research has shown that most workers are either “climbers” who work their way up the professional ladder; “hangers” who just grab on; “scanners” who look for opportunities but may not act; and “coasters” who don’t actively seek out opportunities.

She asked the heavily female audience where they thought they fell.

“Most people are probably coasters,” Gallien said. And that can have a negative effect on lifetime earnings.

“Men are more heavily compensated when they jump from company to company,” she said. “We do not see that same effect for women.”

Males are more likely to receive credit, whether it’s warranted or not. Women need to speak up to ensure that their efforts are recognized.

“When we think about how we want to invest in our careers, it’s important that we invest in the right place,” Gallien said.

Among her suggestions:

  • Get a mentor. Using mentors can boost lifetime earnings.
  • Take risks. You don’t need to check off every job requirement before deciding to apply for a position.
  • Learn the value of self-promotion.

“At the end of the day, it’s not about what you know; it’s about who you know — and who knows what you know,” she said.