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Femininity and Women LeadHERs

The issues Women Leaders Face

There is no shortage of issues that face female leaders on a daily basis in the workplace. Whether we are struggling with the elusive ‘work/life’ balance, fearing if our assertive nature will be misconstrued as ‘bitchy’, or fearing the backlash of delegating responsibilities, the number of gender specific challenges facing women every day in the corporate world are seemingly endless. There is one topic, however, that is so hard to talk about that most women don’t dare utter it aloud. No, it isn’t sexual harassment or the pay gap.

It’s femininity.

Which to Choose, Be Feminine or Be Masculine?

Women in higher power, executive positions are often left with a Sophie’s choice: Look and behave more masculine in hopes that they will be taken more seriously, or allow for their true femininity to shine through and risk being looked on as weak. Living in a society that attaches so much focus on appearance, it is nearly impossible to go day to day without worrying what our outward appearance is saying on our behalf. While most women leaders will scoff at the topic or dismiss it entirely, it is still there and still a real concern for modern women leaders.

We live in a time and a world where we often feel restricted or controlled by how our outward appearance is received by others.

Are We Feminine Enough For Success?

While women leaders have no problem discussing and defining the rules that lead to success in the corporate world, few of them will discuss or acknowledge the topic of appearance and femininity in relation to their potential success. If you ask them how to best prepare for confronting a coworker or how to best handle asking for a promotion, there is little hesitation in the answer. Ask about how they should present themselves to best influence their opportunities for success, and they freeze and shut down the conversation.

Be Authentic Because Your Femininity IS A Strength

The fact is, a leader who is spending their efforts and energy into portraying an image that is not genuine to their self-identity is less likely to be an effective leader. Why? Because energy that could be poured into the work and the business is spent on fear. Fear of what? Fear of what other people think. The truth is, being authentic to yourself and allowing your femininity to be viewed as a strength of your leadership and not as a deterrent is critical in shifting the paradigm that femininity and strength cannot coexist. How does femininity and appearance fit into the modern model for long term success? What do you think of this double edged, double standard sword? Can anything be done to shift the thinking? And if so, what can we do to facilitate that change?

Until then, Be Limitless and Discover Your Next.

What’s Your Next?

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