In a world of judgment, self-comparison and heightened hostilities between men and women in the workplace, there is an almost constant pressure for young women to present themselves in a certain way. While everyone should be polished and poised on the job, women are often criticized if they stray from this seemingly perfect bubble of womanhood. Why does this phenomenon exist? Young women in the workplace face enough opposition as it is. We do not need more obstacles to overcome, especially when it comes to our appearance, or even how other women treat one another. Our society and culture should do away with this idea that femininity is not professional. Female entrepreneurs and leaders are conquering their fields all over the world, and they should be praised for their work, and not lessened by the type of shoes they wear, how much makeup they have on, or how they act while at work.

Characteristics typically attributed to men such as confidence, assertiveness and aggression tend to be viewed positively in the workplace for men. However, these traits are negated and criticized harshly if they are seen in women. A concept called the “double bind” exists where women who tend to be seen as girlish and feminine, are often not seen as leaders. Women of all walks of life should be able to express themselves however they see fit. Their performance as an employee should not be impacted because of it. In fact, femininity can actually be seen as a positive. Women who embrace femininity may hold some traits and characteristics that are unique and can be of great benefit to a company. Traits like compassion, trust, collaboration and building foundational relationships are key to the success of any company.

There is a substantial dissidence between the traditionally masculine route toward success and the traditionally feminine one. While group work and collective success are often attributed to the women of the workforce, this is exactly where the distance, and the opportunity, lies. It is important to work to advance oneself, and to work your way up the metaphorical ladder. However, there is also something to be said for those who can manage to work up the ladder themselves, while also bringing their team or group of partners with them. Those traditionally feminine traits of compassion and collaboration mentioned earlier, are integral components for success within a project, within a department, or even within an entire company. Just because these ideas are typically reserved for female employees does not mean that they do not carry a lot of weight and hold the capacity to bring about great changes.

Outwardly, concepts such as body language play a key role in the success or failure of an employee. Here, proper body language can foster a sense of familiarity and comfort, which can allow for a more collaborative and conducive work environment. These are ideas that women can garner great control over and use to their advantage. This does not mean acting seductively, instead this implies greater control over the atmosphere in the room or working space and creating an environment where everyone feels comfortable. Great results can only come from collaborative groups where everyone feels that they can equally and comfortably contribute to a discussion or project.

While gestures, traits and actions that are traditionally seen as girlish and feminine are often looked down upon, but there is also great strength in these approaches to work. The world could always use more compassion, genuine insight and understanding. Women have the potential and the power to bring great change to the workforce, because we certainly intend to stay.

Joleen T
FFL Contributor
Joleen is a Contributor at FFL. She enjoys reading, going to Chipotle, and drinking copious amounts of coffee. You can find her at the library, or studying for the LSAT. Her goal is to become a lawyer, and eventually run for public office. Her role models are Nikki Haley and Sandra Day O’Connor.

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