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But seriously...

So, I have a question for my female friends and female-presenting non-binary friends.
For those of us who present as 'feminine' in the more traditional sense (can be having longer hair, wearing skirts or other 'girly' clothing, being soft-spoken and so forth): do you find people are more ready to question your knowledge than they do that of women who are seen as less 'girly' in presentation? It was noticeable in my last academic jobs that my female colleagues with short hair who dressed in suits tended to be taken more seriously than the rest of us, and were less likely to be asked to undertake extra admin jobs and to do emotional caretaking.
I'd be interested in hearing the experiences of others about this.

Skirt of the day: Blue-tiered the 2nd (as distinct from the beloved, much worn, fragile blue tiered the first.)

Comments

( 78 comments — Leave a comment )
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naath
May. 12th, 2016 09:15 am (UTC)
My presentation is all over the map, I think I'd go with "nonconformist" (I came to work in a 16th century kirtle once; because it's too heavy to carry in a bag and I needed it later)... but I am the only IT support for a small group of scientists and they all know who I am and what I'm meant to be doing; no-one has ever asked me to do admin tasks (they're usually even sorry when they ask me to fix the printer, and that's actually part of my job), or provide emotional support (huh, I'd be rubbish at that!).

Corporate culture baffles me, the idea that I might be *better at programming computers* if I dressed in a different way (no, I'd be irritated and possibly in pain and sleep deprived and thus worse at thinking clearly) or styled my hair in a certain way (it's long, I put it 'up' most days, to keep it out of my way... it's also blue/green) is just nonsensical to me. Lucky me having a job that sidesteps all of that.
la_marquise_de_
May. 12th, 2016 09:48 am (UTC)
I'm glad you have an environment like this.
rmc28
May. 12th, 2016 10:05 am (UTC)
Open source IT is just as bad for equating women's dress with their ability at IT, just aligned differently from corporate IT. Jeans and geeky tees aren't for everyone (right now, they aren't for me, which is one of the reasons I backed https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/svahasteamangels/svaha-steam-angels-smart-dresses-for-smart-women)
(no subject) - naath - May. 12th, 2016 10:11 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - rmc28 - May. 12th, 2016 10:22 am (UTC) - Expand
joycemocha
May. 12th, 2016 08:23 pm (UTC)
Hair color. Red and shorter got more positive attention than graying ash-blonde that's longer. Wearing a suit jacket with pants or a straight skirt also gets more respectful attention than flowy skirts or a more traditional older female style of attire.
dorispossum
May. 12th, 2016 08:36 pm (UTC)
This rings bells for sure. Seems to be less a masc v fem presentation than a bias towards sharp v soft versions of femininity. (Interesting age angle too, in assumption that older women are less sharp/focused?)
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - May. 12th, 2016 09:22 pm (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - dorispossum - May. 13th, 2016 02:46 pm (UTC) - Expand
la_marquise_de_
May. 12th, 2016 09:21 pm (UTC)
My hair wes red when I was teaching, but it was long. The woman with the short blonde hair got the most apparent respect (but she was loud, so that was most of it). The one who got the actual respect had short dark hair and dressed in smart suits.
watervole
May. 13th, 2016 01:53 pm (UTC)
Hm. I think these days I can wear pretty much what I like (hippy/casual) and get taken seriously, but that may reflect the circles I move in - mostly folkie.

I know when I was running conventions in the early days, I used to get a faster response from hotel staff if I was in my USAF uniform fancy dress. But in more recent years (perhaps because I expected them to do as I asked, and I projected that) I got a good response pretty much whatever I was wearing.
anna_wing
May. 16th, 2016 07:24 am (UTC)
I think our gender differentiation is a lot less than in the UK. Possibly because sex matters a lot (there are legal effects) but once you are legally determined to be of one sex or the other, the outward show matters much less, especially for women.

The senior women in my organisation wear trouser suits, skirt suits, fancy Japanese designer clothes, tight dresses, loose dresses, real jewellery, costume jewellery, no jewellery, lots of make-up, a bit of make-up, and no make-up. Hair is short, long and frequently dyed, occasionally in bright colours.

Men have a much narrower scope. The boss recently issued a general ukase against the Korean boy-band look (ultra tight trousers, shrunken jackets, visible socks), which I admit does not suit anyone but extremely young and skinny men and even then not much.

Basically hierarchical status matters much more than clothes, within a fairly conservative dress code. Deference in manner or voice usually reflects relative rank rather than sex.

In my salad days I always found Jeeves an excellent model to follow.


Edited at 2016-05-16 07:30 am (UTC)
la_marquise_de_
May. 16th, 2016 08:52 am (UTC)
There is definitely a strong cultural dimension to this in the UK, tied in to the continued refusal to take women entirely seriously.
(no subject) - anna_wing - May. 16th, 2016 09:15 am (UTC) - Expand
wyld_dandelyon
May. 18th, 2016 09:09 pm (UTC)
I certainly saw more respect when dressed in a suit (for me, typically a skirted suit since I dislike pants) than a dress or skirt and top, but also when dressed in a more traditional/conservative/boring dress than one in bright colors or with lace or flowers or other traditionally feminine motifs. I didn't want to even think about the uproar if I were to choose to dye my hair to something other than a different natural human hair color.

Similarly, I find that pitching my voice low gets more respect than pitching it higher in my vocal range. I've seen that effect with men too--lower is higher status, just as taller is higher status.
(Anonymous)
May. 26th, 2016 11:41 am (UTC)
Chop your hair off and put a fucking suit on if that's all it takes to give you access to honorary male privile

Chop your hair off and put a fucking suit on, then, if that's all it supposedly takes to give you access to honorary male privilege. Stop spending all your precious time and money on primping and preening and cosmetics and clothes, sending all of your money to exploitative industries that want you insecure. Reject the socially mandated 'girly' role if it supposedly means you are taken so much less seriously than those short haired women.

But no, you won't do that. On some level you know that really, you will be even more invisible that way. You will be a figure of contempt to men and gender-conforming women if you are not beautiful or sexy. Even if you haven't experienced the homophobia and contempt that comes with being butch personally which allows you to post privileged whines like this, you know really that you have it easier than the women who don't appeal to the male gaze.

I suggest you practice what you preach if you're so bothered about women fighting each other instead of focusing on the men at the top. You have absolutely no idea what you're talking about here. If you post poorly informed, anecdata-based whines like this about how much easier butch women whose experiences you don't share have it, yeah, maybe we will get annoyed with you. Maybe your little upper middle class, academic elite bubble does not actually represent the whole world, hmmmmm?
la_marquise_de_
May. 26th, 2016 04:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, look, troll.
Goodbye and enjoy your spite in peace.

I owe you no explanations. But for the record, sorry, no. Not upper middle class. Not even close to it. Upper working/bottom middle, at best.

Edited at 2016-05-26 04:08 pm (UTC)
fastfwd
May. 27th, 2016 07:18 am (UTC)
Oh, Look––A Troll Brave Enough To Be Anonymous!
This response to Kari's post is so unoriginal that I'd swear I've read it somewhere before. Hmmmm?
irishkate
May. 27th, 2016 09:16 am (UTC)
Dunno - but I'm interested in the descriptions of how perhaps I "should" appear and wondering if it is why my last bosses didn't like me - I didn't always dress like that at work - I did when I felt like it but not all the time - it wouldn't really have suited the environment - but perhaps they felt I went too far to casual or something?
la_marquise_de_
May. 27th, 2016 09:39 am (UTC)
Dressing for work is such a minefield, particularly if you're a woman or female-presenting. There are so many unwritten rules and assumptions, and so many prejudices. I was always not quite right in how I dressed --- too bohemian. But another female colleague was 'intimidating' because she wore suits; and another was 'frumpy' -- because she wore plain and practical things, and a third was 'too fashionable'. We can't win!
(no subject) - irishkate - May. 27th, 2016 09:45 am (UTC) - Expand
(no subject) - la_marquise_de_ - May. 27th, 2016 11:35 am (UTC) - Expand
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