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Why I Don't Wear Stilettos to the Oilfield Anymore

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 ;)

If you can relate to this post, please leave a comment on facebook or connect with me anytime. I'd love to hear from you!

Best,

~Mara

To Learn More About Me Click Here


Comments (6)

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Leah Carberry

Sep 06, 2017 10:57 PM CDT

I love this read! Very inspiring and truthful.

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Lyndsey

Aug 28, 2017 12:45 PM CDT

Really cool post Mara. Well written and easy to read. I can relate to a lot of it despite working in a very different field. I too have had plenty of ‘I feel icky’ moments where I join the gang/let comments slide and sometimes have felt violated and insecure as a result of them. In my profession, I’ve had to have some very difficult conversations with men on boundaries and respect, and this often causes me a lot of anxiety prior to- so uncomfortable. I’ve also been highly annoyed (insert eye rolls) with how I’ve been treated by some men, as a professional. When I reflect on it, I often feel as though my skills/abilities that have been build up over time are diminished to ‘just a pretty face’. I’ve learnt that having difficult conversations allows for growth for both parties- no matter how uncomfortable I am with it. It’s exhausting work, and sometimes joining the ranks/ignoring it is easier, especially as it can sometimes feel like a lost cause- however that doesn’t help others learn how we, as women want and deserve to be treated. But in honoring this conversation, I also do admit I have used the ‘female card’ to my advantage- which makes me feel a bit (or a lot) like a hypocrite. Good on you for identifying your role and your values, and making some very significant changes to honor both! xo

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Alice

Aug 24, 2017 03:59 PM CDT

WOWWWW! Nice blog lady!!! You are so so brave for writing this! You're right, objectifying and sexualising women in the workplace is far from gone in today's society. It's a mans world, even though we're constantly striving for equality and respect, sexism, be it mild or not, is received so frequently, yet totally normalised, minimised and discounted. Hard to live in that field of sheep when you've a good moral compass. Good for you for breaking away, empowering yourself and taking control of your life!!! Made me think about where I'm wearing my heals now!!! Alice

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Carolyn

Aug 24, 2017 01:18 PM CDT

Love it!!! Thanks for sharing your experience in 'A Mans world' It is great that you are making your own world!!!

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Michael Kroll

Aug 22, 2017 02:17 PM CDT

Great, great article Mara. While I certainly can't relate to your post the same way a woman can, I am able to say very proudly, that I learned the true, honest and honourable way of sales through my mom. As she was a single mom, she had to work extremely hard and along with the three other women who raised me (my Grandma, Great-Grandma and Aunt); they were all very hard working. I guess that was why I hired, almost exclusively, women sales people for one of my company's. I didn't hire them because of the earlier tactics that you spoke about in your article that got them deals, but because in my experience (again, just to reiterate, in my experience), they are harder working, dedicate themselves to the actual profession of sales and were true practitioners of their craft. That said, I have had the opportunity to work with some amazing men in sales as well; but for the vast majority of the rest, they are all peddlers looking to employ the old tired ways of sales such as A, B, C - Always Be Closing. Uhhh....how cliche can you get!? In summary, your article is something that was refreshing to read and ought to be taken as an inspiration to other women. There is a very large gap of true, professional sales women in the market and the opportunity to stand out from everyone else is there! Thanks again Mara, I'll be sharing this with my network!

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Billie

Aug 22, 2017 09:45 AM CDT

His is awesome Mara! The last line is my FAVE!!!

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