If you’ve ever been in professional sales as a woman you can probably relate to this. It is super competitive so you use any advantage you can to stand out. For me, a pencil skirt and great pair of heels were part of my ability to get in the door so I could build rapport and get a chance to prove that I had a brain. I can’t tell you how many times after leaving an oilfield or construction client meeting that I heard, “wow you actually know your stuff, I didn’t expect that when you walked in”. Ummm, thanks?
Feeling objectified in business gets exhausting.
It’s almost always there, usually in an indirect way, whether it’s at a meeting with clients or in the office as one of the guys. It's just a little bit here and there but eventually it starts to add up. When you’re in the game you play along especially at the beginning, laughing at the comments and sometimes even adding to the conversation so you don’t make waves.
It’s not that I couldn’t stand up for myself because I certainly could have, it’s that it made it easier to get the inside scoop or get through doors into big sales which helped me earn the big bucks. I am very competitive so I was the chameleon who changes into what I needed to be in my environment.
Realizing that I was essentially compromising my self-respect for money was not a good feeling.
I have to say that I didn’t stop the jokes or comments very often and I probably should have. I put up with a lot of crap because I knew how much a big account was worth to my income. It took me years to recognize it. I was not the person I wanted to become, but I was making great money so walking away was really tough.
I’m definitely not a man-hater so don’t get me wrong here. I have an amazing husband, I have a wonderful father who is my business mentor and I have five brothers who would do anything for me. I’ve always gotten along really well with guys my whole life. I'm just saying its different as a woman. I found that lots of men have a way of acting like they are doing you a favour by being indirect with their sexual comments, as if that's somehow more appropriate in a professional setting.
In my experience you have to put up with a lot of crap along the way to compete on an intelligent level.
I know lots of other professional women who do too. I got sick of pretending to laugh at the little jokes even if they were very subtle, or dealing with a guy who was trying to play footsie under the table when his business partner would get up and go to the washroom at a lunch, or the client who said he wanted to leave his wife for me and wouldn’t stop texting me after hours even though I never responded.
When guys in my office had a female hit on them out in the field they would come back to the office and laugh all about it with the guys. There is no real threat there for them so it’s just a joke. It also happens to a man so rarely in a meeting that it's something to talk about. If women did that, we would never get any work done because we would have never ending dialogue on the subject.
I had power because I earned a lot of money but it didn't fill my heart so I quit and switched it up. I am a smart girl and I deserve better. I am now a proud entrepreneur and I want to help other women like me get out of that shark pool.
I guess you could say I no longer wear my stilettos to the oilfield because I have better places to wear my heels ;)
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