In honor of International Women’s Day, I wanted to share a bit about my experiences as a woman in the workforce. I’ve worked in entertainment, hospitality, advertising and marketing, and no matter where I work, I find that the women who are higher up have this reputation of being cutthroat, maybe a little too dedicated to their work instead of their quality of life, and highly intimidating. As a society, we’ve been watching these types of women in movies and tv shows like Devil Wears Prada where the woman who runs the show is anything but kind, and it makes me wonder why these women have to be so overbearing in order to lead.
I have worked in environments where the women at C-level have been known to be ‘scary,’ for lack of a better word, and though I haven’t had to report to them directly, I’ve been warned during my first few weeks on the job to be extra cautious of making errors they might be privy to. So here’s my question - have the women who are in positions of power in the workplace gotten to that level because they are so iron-handed, or do they simply feel that they need to be that way in order to get there because otherwise they risk being seen as weak or emotional? I think a common view in business, or the working world in general, is that it’s a detriment to be a woman and that maybe because of this, we are less likely to be as successful as men. While I unfortunately think this is true to some extent due to things like unequal pay, I also think that being a woman can be a huge benefit (and we shouldn’t be afraid to think so, either).
Women are inherently better listeners, which makes us almost more fit to lead since we can truly understand both our consumers and employees, and their insights, feedback or concerns. Women as consumers also have more purchasing power than men, which means we essentially make more purchasing decisions on everything from household cleaners to vitamins to shampoo. Because of this, we can think like the women we are creating products for or marketing to, whereas men don’t know what goes through our minds. Isn’t it interesting that many women-focused companies (in beauty, retail, etc.) are run by men?! I think that’s pretty crazy considering men have no idea what a woman feels comfortable or beautiful in, so how could they possibly have the best idea of what we want? Only we can know those things, thus giving us the capability to take on the perspectives of our consumers and find ways to solve their problems or improve existing products.
We live in a pretty incredible time where women are speaking up more than they have in decades, and social media has the power to bring us together and make our voices heard at a volume unmatched in history. Instead of being the women that have to act like men in order to succeed, I think it’s time we start owning the qualities that make us women: our compassion, perseverance, adaptability, and tenacity. Let’s first empower ourselves, stop apologizing for who we are, and then empower one another. We don’t have to act like anything other than who we are in order to achieve success.
Jordan Drankoski is the one woman star of the foodie blog Dancing for Donuts. She's a regular guest writer on ToBox serving up inspiration and recipes for the mind and soul. She loves spending time in the kitchen creating new recipes, hiking, trying new restaurants and visiting new places.