Too pretty to manage?

Here’s a dilemma for somebody as vain as me!

Or perhaps I’m just falling prey to 36 years of socialisation that tells me that the most important thing a woman must be is attractive ? And if you don’t think such socialisation exists then may I just point you to the furore over Hillary Clinton’s ankles!

From the well respected New York Times columnist, Nicholas D Kristof comes an op-ed piece entitled When Women Rule. It’s an interesting article suggesting the proportionately women monarch’s have done a far better job of ruling than men and that democracy just allows for the imposition of prejudices, where, however well they do or don’t rule they are perceived as being worse than men. All well and good and just my sort of reading material. But here is the paragraph that caught my eye and then led to a good 90 seconds of panic!

Clothing and appearance generally matter more for women than for men, research shows. Surprisingly, several studies have found that it’s actually a disadvantage for a woman to be physically attractive when applying for a managerial job. Beautiful applicants received lower ratings, apparently because they were subconsciously pegged as stereotypically female and therefore unsuited for a job as a boss”.

So there I am reading away, musing on the, for the time being at least, hypothetical prejudice that I may or may not receive when I rule the world when I am brought right back down to earth in a manner not seen since the special effects on Life on Mars (or something similar) by the realisation that he’s talking about me, as I am, in fact, a manager, a serial manager, a serial senior manager and have been a boss for an increasing number of men and women!

Aaargh…..this means…wait for it….that I cannot be that attractive…(breathing now into a paper bag) because, because…..aaargh!

And there you go! I’ve fallen for it! Even as I try so hard to out on equality for women and feminism , my socialised brain is still trying to conform to society’s norms!

Let me tell you, there’s a rock over there a hard place over here in this world of the feminine feminist!!! Anyway, I have since convinced myself that it doesn’t apply to me because 1) senior though I am, there are a few more rungs of the corporate ladder above me (where all the unattractive women are, of course!!) and 2) I’m self employed, have effectively got off the corporate ladder and all the rubbish and prejudice that goes with it!!

The photographer who took my picture at the top of my blog remarked at one point that I was rather like a younger, blonder Delia Smith. Let me tell you, I was not impressed; it’s a miracle I smiled again that day! Vanity is a terrible cross to bear!!

I suppose if I ever did get to be an MP, it would be a double edged achievement.


Rosie said...
18 Feb 2008, 21:13:00

I don't think you need to worry. As you are self-employed none of the rules apply! In the rest of the corporate world though I agree with the research findings unfortunately. An interesting post!

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