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Sex and the Working Woman: Do Working Women Have to Sacrifice Their Femininity?

Administrator Leadership, Self Image, wardrobe, women Tags: , , , , , ,

The countless articles written on work-life balance often ignore woman’s sexuality. Do we have to turn ourselves into “mini” men to be taken seriously, fit in and succeed?  

I call bulls%#t. Read on to find out why.

It’s true that business organizations typically value men over women, for example by paying women less regardless of their qualifications or job tenure. This, in turn, can lead women to accept male domination as the norm. A Harvard Business Review article puts it like this: “The male-centric nature of our national culture is so pervasive that even many women are male-centered, aligning themselves with men and masculinity to tap into male privilege while attempting (usually unsuccessfully) to avoid the disadvantaged space that women occupy in the workplace.” It’s just one more example of women trying to blend in by outmanning the men.

I believe that not only can successful women retain their femininity, but we can also use it to our advantage. Now, I’m not talking about parading around as a hot sexy babe or sleeping your way to the top (it never works.) Not at all. But women have unique qualities of leadership and people skills AS WOMEN which make them as good as or better bosses than men. And we can exercise those qualities while in high heels and non-boxy suits, with long hair, makeup, accessories, and jewelry—or not. Whatever appeals to us.

Don’t believe me? Fortunately, empirical studies have been designed to analyze the factors that increase corporate productivity and management effectiveness. The data-driven result of these studies speaks for themselves: promoting women to senior positions makes companies more money.

Based on their research, social scientists developed a matrix of the measurable competencies most important for overall leadership effectiveness. Unsurprisingly to women, we rate higher than men in 12 of those 16 competencies. And the higher scores are not just in competencies reflecting so-called “soft” skills, such as dealing with people’s feelings. In fact, two of the traits in which women outscored men to the highest degree—taking initiative and driving for results—have long been perceived as particularly male strengths.

Simply stated, women have superior, more highly developed emotional intelligence. EI is the ability to monitor one’s own emotions and perceive those of others, to discriminate among different emotions and to identify them accurately, and to use emotional information to guide thoughts and behaviors.

Social psychologists’ recognition of women’s superior emotional intelligence, as chronicled in research studies, media reports, and now the recommendations of management consultants and efficiency experts, gives us an empirical basis to effect change. When Forbes, McKinsey & Company, the Harvard Business Review, Business Insider, Fortune, and the Wall Street Journal talk, men listen.

Marrying intelligence, empathy, and emotions allows women to magnify our capacity for analysis and our comprehension of interpersonal dynamics. It is our very femaleness that provides us with these qualities. Are we born this way or has society inculcated us with these capacities—or both? Scientists have not yet solved that nature/nurture question, but what is clear is that through societal norms and personal interactions starting in childhood and building throughout our lives, we learn to deploy these abilities more and more effectively. The result? Women have superior, more highly developed EI —which gives us a springboard to excel as leaders, whether we wear stilettos or sneakers.

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3 thoughts on “Sex and the Working Woman: Do Working Women Have to Sacrifice Their Femininity?

  1. You didn’t address anything about rape culture, sexual harassment, or that maybe not all women want to dress the way you describe in this article. Maybe your view of women should encompass more than shoes and skirts. Some of us have done your oil change, some of us have flown the planes you’ve been a passenger in, some of us have been caring for people’s family members. Your article speaks to a very narrow margin of women that work desk jobs and already know that they can wear what they want.

    1. Thanks for your comment. While it’s true that my message was tailored to a business professional atmosphere, many of the points I made apply across the board. Studies show that regardless of industry, woman face similar issues throughout the workforce. Our EI is still our advantage.

    2. I thought they mentioned it, but I’d like to hear more about how to behave in the male dominated fields in the construction business.

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