How do you present yourself at work?

Interestingly I was having a conversation with a mentor of mine and we were discussing “how women present themselves at work” — or rather, what is the “uniform” that you wear?  He shared a personal story of when he had encountered a religious leader during his undergraduate studies and had asked this person whether or not he feels like the leader of his Parish.  This man replied that he doesn’t always feel like he is, but it helps that he has a uniform to comfort his mind and those minds of his Parish.  My mentor shared this story with me because he felt that it also applies to the workplace.  He also shared that there was a colleague of his who misrepresented her abilities by dressing in revealing clothing to work.  She was, in the end, not wearing her “uniform.”

OK – Scream now!  All the frustration definitely floats to my face as I feel it going red when I hear these sorts of comments.  Women need to be “covered” so that men can concentrate?  We need to wear a “uniform” that makes us look like men?  Women need to “fit into” the male world?

However, after much reflection – the answer is yes.  Yes, we need to go to work in our “uniform.”  Today, in 2012 that “uniform” is a suit no matter which way we look at it.  In 2050 will it be a suit?  I hope not — I hope that my daughters will have created something more fun and stylish that is made for women, by women, and will become the “uniform.”  But until that happens it remains a suit — and in Boston that suit is black.

I would love to post that going to work naked but being a genius will land you that corner office, but it just will not.  The female body is a beautiful thing and sexual behavior (still hotly contested in an evolution context) is pervasive in our society.  Ladies, if you want to pick up a man- wear something sexy to the bar, restaurant, club, first date — and if you want that corner office rock up to work wearing your “uniform.”

Here are two similar articles that I drew my inspiration from that list some of the most common ways women sabotage their own career path: communication and lack of promotion.