The Bumps Along the Path of an Emerging Female Professional

As we gear up for September’s WBC Program – WOE Unplugged on September 19th at the Glen Sanders Mansion 11:30am-1:00pm (register here), I’m reminded of when I was the awardee for the Women of Excellence Emerging Professional in 2014. As WOE Unplugged was drawing near, I was nervous and excited at the same time. I mean – it’s unplugged – you never know what questions may come from the audience 😉 I remember attending past WOE Unplugged events earlier in my career, soaking up all the advice from past Women of Excellence award winners, and was amazed to hear of their paths and the bumps that they had also endured as professional women to get where they are today.

I remember telling this story because there are things as women we experience that I’m pretty sure men don’t experience in a professional setting. When I first started working after I graduated college, I was a case and data manager for a non-profit. I dressed very professionally every day for work, and even made sure on casual Fridays I wasn’t too casual. My fellow millennials and I get a bad rap that we like to show up in flip flops and inappropriate dress, so I not only had to prove myself as a woman, but also that I wasn’t an unprofessional, entitled millennial either. Even so, my supervisor at the time had a daughter a few years younger than me, so she treated me more like her child than her employee, and would even call me into her office and say she had clothes her daughter didn’t fit into anymore and wanted to know if I wanted them. She would do the same thing – even when I was in her office about a serious matter. I couldn’t believe another woman was treating me like this. Lifting other women up was definitely not in her vocabulary.

Fast forward eight years later when I started as Executive Director of Girls Inc. I’m pretty sure I wore a suit or a suit dress every day for the first three years. I remember when I was attending a Girls Inc conference and one of my fellow Executive Directors told us about a book by John Molloy called New Women’s Dress for Success. She told us “younger ED’s” to make sure we always wore a jacket because of the power of a jacket. In John Molloy’s book he states,

“The jacket has become the hallmark of the American businesswoman. Today it serves the same functions for women that the suit does for men. The jacket identifies its wearer as a serious career woman with power, authority, or potential.

93% of businessmen and 94% of businesswomen assume that women wearing jackets outrank women without jackets.

A woman wearing the most conservative, businesslike dress will be seen as a professional by only 40% of the businesspeople she meets for the first time. If she slips on a jacket over the dress, the number of businesspeople who will assume she has power, authority, or potential will more than double.”

I can’t believe we are still discussing what to wear as women and that there’s still a debate between pantyhose vs. no pantyhose. But I guess one thing is clear – wear a jacket!

Girls Summit

(Me wearing a jacket over my Girls Inc t-shirt at our Annual Girls’ Summit)


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