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Dress for success, i.e. dress like a man September 14, 2012

Posted by mareserinitatis in career, engineering, teaching, work.
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This week, I had a speaker from the career center come and talk to my classes in preparation for a career fair.  He spent some time talking about appropriate dress, and showed examples of potential outfits for both sexes.  I found this quite interesting, especially given a previous discussion on the topic of women’s dress on EngineerBlogs.

The first thing that caught my attention was that he said that women should wear their hair up if they want to be perceived as more professional.  As a woman who has long hair, I can totally see this.  I’m also not terribly happy about it because when my hair gets to a certain length, I start getting headaches if I wear it up.  Beyond that, though, I think it’s interesting because of potential social implications.  The speaker said that a woman who is willing to expose her neck comes across as more confident and competent.  But that does make me wonder why…and the only thing I’ve been able to come up with is that women who wear ponytails look a lot more like men.  Men who are considered ‘professional’ tend to wear their hair short.  A woman who puts her hair up and exposes her neck looks more like a man with a short haircut, and men, in general, are going to be perceived as more professional.  I may be wrong about that, but I couldn’t help but wonder.

Women’s clothing choices seemed more limited, IMO.  It seemed like men could wear a lot of different things and still look ‘professional’.  (I do have to note, however, that men don’t have extremely wide wardrobe choices to begin with.)  By contrast, women’s clothing varied so much more in style, and most of them were not professional.  Make sure you wear sleeves, be careful of color, watch the jewelry, etc.  Beyond that, one of the outfits was one that I think a lot of other women would find professional or stylish but apparently weren’t perceived that way by potential employers.  I’ve seen women criticize other women’s clothing, but apparently some of the choices that were being criticized as ‘unfashionable’ were being judged differently by employers.  This makes me wonder if it’s not a good idea to get ideas of professional dress from other women, particularly if the field is much more male-oriented.

Beyond that, I had to wonder if presentations like this are ultimately harmful.  On the one hand, I think it’s good to make sure the students understand the implications of their dress choices.  Still, I have to wonder if these presentations reinforce ideas about what is professional and not, leading students to eventually make evaluations of others based on what they were told.  I sort of feel like this is perpetuating a system where people are evaluated based on their clothing choices, especially on how feminine they look, rather than their technical ability.  This is particularly frustrating because my observation is that someone who is quick to catch on to what constitutes professionalism may not necessarily be the best engineer.


Lots of locks October 13, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in personal, work.
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Today, FSP had a post discussing how some people view long hair as unprofessional.

I’d never heard that before, and I didn’t think much of it as I’ve never really run into the problem (as far as I know) myself.

For those of you who don’t know, I regularly wear my hair somewhere between my shoulder blades and my hips.  The only time I ever had a negative comment about it was when an ex-boyfriend suggested I get a ‘more flattering’ hairstyle, apparently not realizing that short hair looks like an abomination on my head.

However, the post gave me pause for thought.  What if someone did tell me my hair was unprofessional?

After telling them it was none of their business how I wore my hair, I might bring up another point.  Because my hair grows inordinately fast, I regularly grow it down to my hips.  Once it reaches that length, I have enough hair to cut off a good foot and still leave it long enough that it doesn’t look horrible and drive me insane.  This means that I have enough hair to donate to groups like Locks of Love.  In fact, when a friend developed cancer and told me she would be needing a wig, I offered to cut my hair for her.  She declined, but I wanted to at least offer.

Over the past decade, I’ve made 3 or 4 such donations, and plan to keep doing it as long as my hair keeps going like this.  As far as I’m concerned, I’m doing a good thing that trumps any notion of needing a ‘professional’ looking hairdo.

Linkety link January 6, 2011

Posted by mareserinitatis in links.
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Women in science with children are disappearing from the professorial pipeline, but not nearly as fast as bumble bees. Grizzlies are also dealing with the effects of habitat encroachment.. I wonder if this is similar to dispatching Topsy the Elephant to show the dangers of AC power.

On the up side, Brazil and other countries are eliminating poverty at incredible rates and LA County residents are attempting to save their night skies. (The last sentence was hilarious.)

On a more practical side, Female Computer Scientist has some fashion tips for interviewing while Chad discusses online first impressions.


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