Every generation of women has found it easier to step into a man’s world and compete. During my early years as a business owner, one potential client decided against signing up because I might get married and quit. As a woman, credibility was hard to come by. I knew I had to have more letters behind my name to get the same consideration, so I pursued every educational opportunity I could get.
In earlier generations, women had to dress like men in order to be taken seriously. I never felt that way, but I was always cautious to present a professional image. I am a woman. I want to look nice. I want to appear feminine, but I know I must tread carefully. Even as a young woman, I always wanted to be valued for what was in my head, not for what I looked like.
Sheryl Sandberg has created a fuss with her new book, “Lean In”. I haven’t read it, but I have listened to her talk about the need for women to pursue top positions in the business world. Sandberg is no slouch when it comes to appearance. She is a beautiful woman who dresses like a woman.
But make no mistake about it. She’s the COO of one of the biggest businesses in the world. She speaks carefully and seriously about women in business. She is no slouch when it comes to running a business.
The truth is that women in business must still be guarded. Yes, we can be women, but we must avoid the stereotypes. The most important number in our resume should be our IQ, not our bra size.
It’s been a long, hard 20 years for me, as I have bucked those old winds and built my business. Whenever I see a woman judged for her outfit in a serious situation, I respond, “REALLY??” Whenever I see a woman getting more credit than she deserves because she’s “hot,” I say, “REALLY??” And when I see or hear a woman playing into the stereotypes, I just cringe.
So when I heard one of the lines from Sarah Palin’s speech at CPAC referencing her “rack,” I was incredulous. The second female candidate for national office just set us back decades. Sarah, “REALLY??”
» Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org, and her website is www.newper.com.