Monday, February 12, 2007

A New Double Standard (Annotation 2)

ABC News: Can Sexy Women Climb the Corporate Ladder? Annotated

Through out the course of my research, I’ve become familiar with several of the double standards women face in the work place. Just recently, I learned of a new double standard I had never thought about. This double standard revolves around the manner in which women and men dress. In an ABC News article titled, Can Sexy Women Climb The Corporate Ladder, author Eric Noe argues that provocative clothing may prevent a women from climbing to the top. Noe states,

“If you're a professional woman with designs on occupying the corner office, your fashion sense better be more Hillary Clinton than Pamela Anderson.”

I definitely agree with this statement. I believe women should dress as professionally as possible when going to work. Although tight mini skirts and sexy tops might be an expression of a women’s individuality, it is still not appropriate for the workplace. Aspiring business women are often times viewed as incompetent, simply because they are women. Unfortunately, women are perceived even more negatively when a sexy outfit is added to the equation. Noe writes,

"If you look too sexy, the stereotype is that you're not that bright….And, of course, there is the age-old "bimbo" or "dumb-blond" stereotype that often plagues attractive women…”

Although a woman can dress sexy and still be an amazing business leader, studies have shown that the level of respect she receives gets smaller as her skirts get smaller. When it comes down to receiving respect or making a fashion statement, I think most women would take the respect on any given day.

Finally, allow me to introduce the new stereotype that Noe introduced to me. According to Noe,

“…women must accept a certain double standard when it comes to office attire and stereotypes. Men who dress poorly may be considered sloppy, but that probably won't affect the perception of their competence. For women, people will immediately assume: 'Oh, if she can't put a skirt and a blouse together, then how is she going to handle my finances?'" …"For men, they're more likely to say: 'Well, he's a bad dresser, but he's a whiz with numbers.'"

I never realized how absolutely true this is. Women who have no fashion sense are unquestionably perceived differently than men who have no fashion sense. A man, for example, can wear polk-a-dots and stripes and will still be respected and deemed brilliant. On the other hand, if a woman was to wear horrifically mismatched outfits daily, she would be viewed as frumpy, and incapable of delivering quality work. Her image would be belittled by the other employees in the workplace and her intelligence and abilities would become invisible.

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