Maintaining your Femininity When You Rule the World
More women than ever are breaking the glass ceiling and taking up high profile roles in the corporate world. We are seeing more female CEOs and big business owners than ever before, but many of these women find it difficult to marry their desire to have a meaningful long term relationship with the perception that they should act like a man in order to achieve career success.
Women in high profile roles are encouraged to embrace their more masculine traits, working under the assumption that to succeed in a world dominated by men, you have to behave like a man. Despite the fact that contemporary women have now established their place in the work force for decades, and that women make up 47 percent of the American work force, there is still the perception that you need to adopt masculine traits in order to succeed. And sadly, certainly in some industries, that perception is true. So how exactly can you maintain your femininity when you’re busy ruling the world?
Just because you are expected to behave in the masculine way doesn’t mean that you should. Challenge perceptions and show that you can be just as good at your role whilst simultaneously maintaining your own identity. When they are not behaving in the traditionally feminine way that we expect, women are judged much more harshly than men who refuse to conform to societal norms. For example, women who succumb to alcoholism or other addiction, women who do not live in the same household as their children, and women who make life choices that are mistakes are judged considerably than men who do the same. However the only way to break this cycle is to create an image of a strong, successful, feminine women who hasn’t had to sacrifice who she is to succeed. And breaking that cycle starts with you.
Reassess your Wardrobe
Before we talk about how you dress, it’s important to remember that if you are comfortable with the way you present yourself to the world then there is never any need to change that in order to please someone else. However if you winced every time Donald Trump (and the wider media) criticized Hilary Clinton’s wardrobe full of pant suits, because it was so similar to your own, then there are changes you can make. Wearing a skirt suit won’t affect your ability to do your job: neither will having the occasional blow dry or adding a slick of lipstick to your outfit. You can embrace your femininity and still present a professional image: why not try softening your existing wardrobe by adding new accessories, or adding a little more make up to your daily look? Another great tip to completely transform your image is getting a good hair cut: ask your hairdresser for something feminine but easy to maintain, so you won’t have to spend hours each day styling your hair before you head to the office.
Keep Your Work Life Separate
If it is essential that you present several masculine traits at work in order to succeed in your particular environment, then it can be so tempting to take those same traits and adopt them in your private life. However in order to maintain your femininity in these circumstances, it is important to keep your home life and your work life separately. Embrace who you are in your private life, and celebrate the femininity that you may well keep hidden from 9-5. When you are going on dates or meeting new people, they do not need to see the kick ass, no nonsense woman that you present in the boadroom or to your employees. It is not unusual for your work persona to be different from who you really are, particularly for women in high profile positions.
Breaking through the glass ceiling and reaching beyond the comfortable realm of middle management remains a huge achievement for any woman, and something that should be celebrated. The bigger challenge, however, is in doing so and maintaining your femininity. If you are a female CEO or Executive looking for a relationship, then marrying these two aspects of your life is likely to pose your next big challenge.
By Anne Cable