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janice6
01-20-2009, 15:42
I have watched the contest between women and men in business for many years. Women, I offer this as insight. If you have a woman superior, then you have to emulate her. I did not and I don’t know how to compete with a woman.

However, I did have three sisters and now have three daughters so I have a considerable investment in this information.

I have developed my opinions over a lot of years, and these are my opinions! Opinions are not subject to discussion or someone else’s approval. So don’t bother to flame me I will not submit. I am old and this is all I have left.

I am 70 years old and have worked for one of the largest corporations in America. In my years of working with the company “suits” (male and female) I have formed some strong opinions of why male and female business people dress the way they do. And how they do or do not succeed in business.

Male:
Males have one rule. Look exactly like your boss. Avoid Brown like the plague. If you feel you want to be taken seriously you have to make sure the only thing that “sticks out” at meetings is your ideas. Your ideas are the only thing that the company wants, it’s money.

This results in male dress being subdued and dark colors such as black dark blue and various shades of very dark formal dress. You do not want to have your peers thinking you are a “sharpy used car dealer”, you will be dead.

You also don’t want to be considered to “shy” or lacking in abilities to confront people and problems. Therefore, avoid browns, or you will be seen as an “engineer” who is only interested in technology and unable to cope with “real” business decisions and confrontations. I actually researched this over 8 years.


Female:
Females have a peculiar problem. They appear to want to dress for business women and at the same time for business men. This leads to some very peculiar combinations of dress.

First, women seem to think (for some obtuse reason) that high heels make their legs look better. I believe this is comparing themselves to other women. Don’t dress for other women, dress for success. More often then not, women need to impress the male counterparts they work for by their ideas and not by their female distractions.

When you see a “business conservative” (a must for management) woman she may show up to important staff meetings with a dress, high or medium heels, and a strangely tailored jacket that looks like a fashion attempt at a men’s suit jacket but slightly more flamboyant (too long/short). Here she sits at staff meetings wanting to be taken seriously while showing her legs (nice or not) a fashion version of a suit jacket with (in my experience) bright red scarf tied loosely at her neckline like boutique advertisement. Some women wear suits and slacks etc. but I’ll get to that in a minute.

Consider what the boss sees at this meeting. All males emulating him and his perception of authority and conservatism. MEN STRIVE TO LOOK A LIKE. Remember the oriental tall peg and hammer principle. The appearance of their clothing and hair grooming and tie colors are all alike. If you present an idea or report, there is nothing to break the attention of the males at the meeting EXCEPT what you have to say. You are not detracting from the intent of presenting your intelligence in front of your peers. Your judged only on your ideas and nothing else (did I say this was a perfect world?)

Now for some of the female attendees. They show up looking different! The guys start listening to their ideas and their attention starts to wander. They see that the female version of a man’s suit is “different” from their “mans suit”. They look at the differences and (God forbid) a low neckline or even cleavage. They see the “very nice legs”, no one else in this room has legs, pants/slacks cover them. This woman is trying her level best to be a good staff person and be judged by her thoughts and ideas but she has brought too many distractions to the table. Remember women, Men are slobs and they will see through (or think they can) any thing that takes their attention away from your voice. Trust me, you will not be judged for your ideas this way.

My observations of being in staff meetings with the women that do get judged by their ideas are the ones dressed as follows.

The start with “flat heel dress shoes, preferably in black (to men black is a dominant color and brown is wimpy. If their ankles show (of course they do) wear black stockings, no seams. The pants/slacks are straight leg with maybe a hint of bell or “boot cut at the cuffs. The slacks/pants go to the top of the shoe. When you are standing, as for man’s pants, they should have a slight break in the front crease with the rear cuff lower on the heel. To a man this is neat and professional.

The best shirt/blouse should be buttoned at the neck or at least show no chest/cleavage. The jacket should have the same length relative to the pants, as a man’s. You are not trying to prove you are a woman, you are trying to prove you are a professional. You want a career, not an affair.

If you do wear something around the neck, at least try to make it look like a legitimate version of a tie with subdued power colors (not more then the bosses tie) dark red, maroon, dark blue, medium blue some small pattern as a man’s tie. Even a ribbon under the collar and a small pin in the front to join the ends. Somewhat like a bowtie. The exposure at the front is small and even red works.

So, here is the point I am trying to make. If you want to be judged equally with your male peers, LOOK LIKE THEM. DON’T DRESS TO STAND OUT and don’t try to make an individual fashion statement. Don’t give the males any excuse for not listening to your ideas. You have to fight this war on their terms; they own most of the marbles. You can see that what I describe as attire for the office also makes the young and old women equal competitors. Attributes are covered up.

I have worked with many professional women in management and the greatest compliment I ever heard from the Program Managers, was that she acts like a LEZ. The time I heard this I had to laugh, because I had personally accompanied this woman on a trip to one of the National Weapons Labs and she was the equal to many of them and a better administrator than most. I considered their comments to be envy and stupid, of course.

I have no axe to grind except that I have three daughters that are trying to make it in a man’s world of business and I give them the same advice. They are progressing well, thank you for asking.

What I am telling you is to fight with men on their terms and you will do very well. Women have great stamina and excellent original ideas and perspectives. Don’t compete with other women at your office, neither of you will do well. Compete with the men, they have the power and you can get some of it by getting rid of the overt differences between the sexes in the office.

So long and thanks for all the fish!http://glocktalk.com/forums/images/smilies/wavey%5B1%5D.gif

Mrs. Tink
01-21-2009, 16:33
Hey Janice (are you really 70??). I was right with you up until the part where you said not to wear a skirt. Obviously you should never wear a skirt above the knee to work. And you should make sure that it fits well and flatters you (as opposed to making you look dumpy). I also don't suggest wearing heels over 3", even if they are boots. But I disagree that men are doing more looking at your legs than listening to your ideas if you are wearing a skirt.

I can't speak for the way things were in the past. I have been at my career for over 5 years, and I have found that my style of dress has improved vastly since I started work, AND that I have put forth ideas that have been appealing to my management regardless of whether I was wearing a skirt or pants.

I am sure that it didn't hurt that the head of our office was a female Air Force colonel.

As a final disagreement, I present to you Margaret Thatcher. She held her own with world leaders and her government at home. She did so by ruling like a man, not dressing like one.

janice6
01-22-2009, 21:07
Hey Janice (are you really 70??). I was right with you up until the part where you said not to wear a skirt. Obviously you should never wear a skirt above the knee to work. And you should make sure that it fits well and flatters you (as opposed to making you look dumpy). I also don't suggest wearing heels over 3", even if they are boots. But I disagree that men are doing more looking at your legs than listening to your ideas if you are wearing a skirt.

I can't speak for the way things were in the past. I have been at my career for over 5 years, and I have found that my style of dress has improved vastly since I started work, AND that I have put forth ideas that have been appealing to my management regardless of whether I was wearing a skirt or pants.


I am sure that it didn't hurt that the head of our office was a female Air Force colonel.

As a final disagreement, I present to you Margaret Thatcher. She held her own with world leaders and her government at home. She did so by ruling like a man, not dressing like one.

PLEASE don’t take my comments as a requirement for success. I am not trying to talk down to anyone or mandate my opinions, just offer them for someone to do what they will. As for Margaret Thatcher, It’s interesting that you mentioned her. The woman Marketing Manager I referred to in my first post was a copy of her, and as I said, she was very good.

First: I am a male. My first name is George. I am not sure if I made that clear enough in my initial comments. I use the prefix of my email name for simplicity. (and my wife wanted her pick of the email name for once).

First,Yes I'm 70. I thank you for your comments. I mentioned that I could not apply what I was saying to working for a woman boss since I have never had that situation. I have only worked for men. I also am pleased to meet you. I have read many of your posts and I find them very helpful and interesting.

Second, I must not have made myself very clear. I am writing the above observations from my point of view. I worked in Physics Research for 40 some years and my observations are from constant meetings with my corporation management, Marketing Managers (They determine the Military programs we would undertake and do the company management of them), the Hardware Engineering Staff, and sometimes the Software Engineering staff, Our Avionics Division management and engineering.

I assure anyone reading, that what I am trying to offer is my observations, from a large cross section of male management at many different areas and levels of expertise over the 1960’s to 2000. I have not made the preceding statements from a narrow focus of a small sampling of males. My company had 100,000 employees. I also was never in a position to mandate directions for the company.
My post was not intended as an "only approach to advancement in a man’s business world". I was offering the comments from a man’s perspective as an insider who hears background comments. I only offer some possible insight to the interactions.

And I'm pleased to read that you are working with the military also. I enjoyed my engineering career with them, (mostly the Navy).

I am not in a position to disagree with any woman, the relative merits of different styles of clothing. I do agree with your statement that a proper style dress looks neat and professional. But, I must restate that what I have said is from a particular perspective, and offered for what little it is worth.

Lastly, I don’t know if I broke some rule by doing this in this Forum. I just had to say what I heard over all these years.