Is some kind of "assistance" mentality - held over from the days when women were looked upon as belonging in service roles - still haunting the information profession? Sometimes, I get a nagging feeling that if I were male, stakeholders would regard my professional contribution differently - am I out to lunch here?
You are touching on a complex topic that could make for a fascinating PhD thesis! Here's my very pragmatic view: Let's focus on projecting a professional image based on results and value --but let's not overlook the potential impact of borrowing the "uniform" idea from the guys!
One could speculate that the significant demographic shifts we are now seeing, coupled with the trend for females to outnumber males at secondary education institutions, may impact views of the relative roles of women and men. But I'll have to believe too many other factors play a role.
While we watch society evolve, we can't go wrong with two basic strategies:
- First, in everything we do and communicate, we must echo the organization's strategic direction --in other words, we focus on the business at hand rather than on ourselves as individuals.
- Second, we are smart about the image we project. Studies have been made of the influence of attire on the perception others have of an individual's competence - typically concluding that jackets and blazers influence study participants' ratings of people in professional positions. I received a valuable lesson at my first private sector job when a colleague explained why she always donned her jacket to leave her desk: "You never know who you are going to meet in the hallway."
What do the gentlemen think?
Ulla de Stricker