After 21 years in the car business a trace of "maleness" has crept into Dana Rodriguez's behavior at the office.
"I certainly don't look like a man or dress like one, but I act like one," said Rod- riguez, 43, Eastern region operations trainer for DCH Auto Group, a large dealership group based in South Amboy, N.J.
For example, when Lithia Motors bought DCH last year and Rodriguez was given increased responsibilities, she was quick to ask for a raise -- even though it went against her basic nature.
"It's important for women to ask and to have confidence in asking," she said. "You have to recognize when you're being overlooked. Men don't have to think about that as much."
This just in: Men and women think and act differently in the workplace. And the differences can make it much harder for women to get ahead in a male-dominated industry such as automotive.
The key difference is style of communication, according to business leaders who have studied the subject. And because men occupy most positions of power, their way of communicating tends to be considered the right way.
For example, men are likely to display more self-confidence in the workplace, whether or not they actually feel more self-confident. They also make decisions faster whether or not they have actually thought about what they are deciding.
Also, body language is different.
"Men tend to avoid eye contact when talking to you," said Jenny Ta, 43, founder of the social networking site Sqeeqee. "They tend to look at their notebooks. They are aggressive with their words, but they don't look you in the eye."
Women like to sit across from one another when they talk, Ta says. Men prefer to stand side-by-side while in conversation, she says.
But in a room full of men, Vicki Poponi, 54, head of export sales for American Honda Motor Co., says that women often will physically step back from the action.
"In a meeting room, you'll often see that women don't sit at the table," Poponi said. "They sit at a back row along the wall. They look at the table and think, 'I don't belong there,' even if they do. The guys, even if they're not sure, will sit at the table."
Such things play into how women are perceived. And so they can become big things.