4 Independence Is a Powerful Illusion

Katie was proud of her promotion to senior project engineer—and rightfully so. She was the first woman in this role in her company and the decision to choose her for this position was a testament not only to her competence but also her tenacity. She was excited about the project portfolio she was entrusted with; it included a number of high‐visibility projects of strategic importance to the growth of the company. She had learned that success for a woman meant being overprepared and ready to prove herself at any time, and she was determined to succeed, even if she had to double‐down on her preparedness. She knew that she would be watched very closely and had to prove to a good number of skeptical men that she was up to the job.

But Katie was determined to exceed expectations, even as she was transitioning into her new job. She woke up even earlier than she usually did to make sure she was on top of all the developments, and she was the last to leave the office, tying up loose ends and steeping herself in the various details that could represent risks to project completion. She sacrificed not only her sleep, but also family obligations and friendships. Her promotion also meant that some of the teammates with whom she had been close before her promotion were now her direct reports. She started to maintain a certain professional distance, which she thought would help her manage them better.

After a few weeks, Katie felt she had achieved ...

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