Recently, a female colleague said that she believes that I had achieved my professional position because I am an attractive woman and work for male administrators. The (not-so-subtle) implication of this statement was that, as an attractive woman, I was given opportunities not afforded to others who she believes are better qualified than I am.
To be quite honest, I was shocked at this accusation. I would never classify myself as an attractive woman. I would describe myself as a runner, athletic, a feminist, an educator, a wife, a sister, a mother, an animal lover, and a laundry list of other adjectives…but never would I label myself as “attractive.” The idea of of using my appearance in an attempt to get ahead is ridiculous to me. I am the person running out the house at the last minute with a dryer sheet stuck to the arm of her blouse. I am so frugal that I only shop at second-hand clothing shops and that one red tag clearance rack at the back corner of the store. My husband is far more fashion forward than I am. In fact, he does all the ironing in our household as my skill level is not up to his standards, which is fine by me. I spray that magic wrinkle spray on myself and call it good enough. Most of my time outside of work is spent in running shoes and workout clothing. My beauty “routine” consists of my daughter’s baby oil, eczema cream, and prescription acne ointment from a dermatologist (yes, in my mid-30’s I am plagued by both acne and wrinkles). Those are certainly not the features that one would normally associate with “attractive.” Continue reading Feminism and the Alpha Female
by: Jennifer R. Keup
The week of Thanksgiving, I sat in my regular yoga studio listening to my instructor begin the class with a statement of intentions for our 90 minutes together. Much to my surprise she shared the following: “Thanksgiving is the time when we might expect to engage in a practice with the intention of ‘gratitude.’ While I certainly support the idea and practice of gratitude, I would rather spend our time on the intention of setting appropriate boundaries. By saying ‘no’ to family members, to food, to holiday obligations, or to other things, we are often saying ‘yes’ to ourselves in the healthiest of ways.”
Continue reading The Gift of Saying “No” to Others and “Yes” to Yourself
by: Jodi Koslow Martin
An alternate title for this entry is ” What’s Taking So Flipping Long?” Let me explain.
In 2012, Anne-Marie Slaughter wrote an article in The Atlantic titled “Why Women Still Can’t Have It All.” This article sparked a great deal of debate and dialogue among professional women and was certainly a point of discussion for the founding authors of this blog. Recently, Ms. Slaughter’s spouse, Andrew Moravcsik, added his own entry into the same periodical, which was titled “Why I Put My Wife’s Career First.” As you can guess from the title, it was a personal reflection of the choices that the two-career couple made with respect to the ever elusive balancing act of raising kids and having a meaningful careers.
As you can imagine, this article elicited some strong responses from the women in our group, especially from me. My reaction was this…of course there’s a lead parent! Sometimes, there’s even only one parent. We’ve all known this. It seems as if it’s taking a really long time to finally realize it’s OK if it’s a male lead parent. Like a really long time. And, apparently, it takes a Princeton professor to say, “It’s okay, guys, you’re going to have to give up some things but this, this bond with the kids, ya’ know, you should really try it out.”
Continue reading Who’s Lucky: Choices about Primary Parenting
by: Shelly N. Laurenzo
Amidst the morning hustle of getting ready for work and a toddler ready for preschool I hear a light bing come from my cell phone. Thinking it might be a traffic alert, dreaded with my 35-mile commute, I hesitantly picked up my phone and instead saw a calendar alert for a director’s group meeting the next day. Director’s group? Why would I be getting a calendar invite to director’s group? And then I remembered, I’m now a member of director’s group. A few days prior I was promoted in the office and now held a seat in at the table of my office’s leadership team. As soon as my decaffeinated brain processed this information my second thought was, I’m not ready for this. Clearly this is a mistake. I’m an imposter.
Continue reading Why Not Me? Overcoming Imposter Syndrome
by: Sara Hinkle, Jennifer R. Keup, & Jodi Koslow Martin
As we have referenced before, this blog is the descendant of an ongoing Women’s Leadership Book Club in which most of the regular #SAFeminist contributors engage. Our most recent book selection literally started with the daunting questions “When did you make a mistake in your career and what did you learn from it?” The rest of the book, aptly titled Mistakes I Made at Work: 25 Influential Women Reflect on What They Got Out of Getting it Wrong, is dedicated to sharing the stories told in response to that question for a number of female leaders from a wide range of professions, including Kim Gordon (bassist and founding member of Sonic Youth), Ruth Reichl (La Times and New York Times food critic, author, and editor of Gourmet magazine), Carol S. Dweck (Stanford psychology professor and motivation researcher), and Dr. Cori Lathan (Founder and CEO of the engineering research and design firm, AnthroTronix).
Reading the very real, sometimes embarrassing, occasionally painful stories was a fascinating and enlightening experience. Especially because it was such a raw insight into the taboo topic of women making mistakes, for which we rarely allow or forgive ourselves due to stringent and typically unrealistic expectations of women that are often self-inflicted but socially endorsed. Continue reading Making it Right After Getting it “Wrong”
by Kelsie Poe
A few months ago I went to an on-campus retreat about women’s leadership. I was excited to meet with undergraduate women, talk to them about leadership styles, and what problems they had while leading. Our keynote speaker, Valerie Hennings, really struck a chord with me. Hennings discussed the issues facing women in leadership, citing attribution theory as one reason for a lack of women in leadership positions. Attribution theory looks at where we attribute our successes and failures within our lives, and the evidence shows that men and women are generally opposite in their attributions. It hurts me to see women attributing successes to external factors and failures to internal factors while men generally do the opposite. We were asked to take control of our leadership and take responsibility for what we were achieving.
After we learned about attribution theory in the morning, we had a panel of guest speakers in the afternoon who held prominent roles in the surrounding community. One woman, in describing her life story and successes, said she was so lucky to have been given the opportunities in her past and hoped that all of the young women in the room would have the great fortune of experiencing those moments. Continue reading From Lucky to Worthy
by Kathleen Kerr
Beginning at the 2008 ACPA Convention, and at each one since, I have had the privilege of being a presenter for a program called “Secrets of Success: Women Leaders on Their Own Terms.” The program was initiated by two-time past ACPA President Jeanne Hart-Steffes, who is currently serving as the Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students at Western New England University. She believed that we could create a powerful learning experience for our colleagues, simply by telling our stories. So each year, she has gathered together five or six women who have diverse professional experiences and are from diverse backgrounds, to talk about their work in higher education, and how this connects to our values, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, and our personal and professional aspirations. Past participants have included Susan Komives, Patty Perillo, Bridget Kelly, Stacey Pearson-Wharton, Lynnette Willett, and Dafina Lazarus Stewart.
While the women on the panel have changed over the years, the response to the session has remained constant. Each year, whether we are presenting for an hour or for three; whether we are at 11 am or at 8 am on the final day of the convention, women arrive to fill the room. Continue reading Holding Ourselves to Unrealistic Expectations