Play Like A Man Win Like A Woman

 Gail Evans

  1. 189 pp. Broadway Books, New York.


I was annoyed when I was reading this book. I was annoyed because the book assumed that the only way a woman could get ahead in the business world was by ‘playing the game’ that men had set out, oh, but we were to do it in a true-to-being female way. So my sensibilities around wanting to be authentically me, and not play any game, were rising to the fore and I couldn’t overcome the frustration I was feeling whilst reading.

Then I reflected on my emotion and surveyed the book rather than reread it. By survey I meant I had another look at what the author was getting at and why she was putting it in the frame of playing a game. The aspect that turned my view to a positive one, was the date of the book.

If I was to have the good fortune of speaking with the author today, I would a series of questions:

  • What would you change if you were to write this book today, well over 1.5 decades later?
  • Do you believe women need to ‘fit’ into the men’s game today? Why?
  • In what ways has this world change for business women because there is now a substantial number of high-profile women around the world in key leadership positions?
  • To what extent has feminine leadership principles become a part of the business and corporate world? How would this alter her perspective of women learning how to play a man’s game?

You see, in all fairness, Gail shared her enormous experience and lessons she learnt from starting out, climbing up and being a leader, and she wanted to empower any woman who desired to get into the ‘game’ and be successful. At the time of writing this book, which would have been the late 1990s, I believe that Gail was absolutely spot on with her resolve that woman could not win any game, position or earn power, if we were not in the game in the first place. At that time the people who picked which players would be in the game were men, so it was necessary that women be understood, to some extent, or be left on the benches.

So accolades to Gail for who heartfelt approach to helping women know how they are perceived. There are irreconcilable differences between men and women. There is no denying that. However, these differences are not to be chasm, rather, the potential synergy that arises when those differences are placed in complementary ways actually provide huge benefit for all. You know the saying, the ‘sum is greater than its parts’?

Whilst I have drawn an emphasis under the age of the book, I still believe that it serves a purpose for us today. Whilst I reject the notion of having to ‘fit’ in, accommodate outright, which is a way of saying that men own the business and corporate world, I do hold the view that women need to understand the language of men. The equivalent is rather like if you want to do business with a company from a different culture, or other countries, then you are best to learn about the differences and similarities so that you can authentically speak, listen and be present to each other. But I firmly believe that it is a two-way street.

I am appreciative that Gail shared her experiences as it is important to all of us to be aware of the pathways of those that have entered worlds that were once the exclusive purview of men as they created the path for later women to enter and clear more of the way forward.