Tuesday, August 9, 2011

I just had my head exploded

Sometimes when you teach something comes at you from the most unexpected places and just surprises the hell out of you.


Today I marked what was essentially an organizational behaviour paper. 


The student's thesis was that since leaders and managers are more comfortable traditionally in hiring and promoting those that look like them, professional woman have traditionally favoured pants and jackets (think Hillary Clinton) shoulder pads, and tailored clothes. I always figured it was to dress like the boys but the idea that the boys are more relaxed dealing with someone who looks like them is an interesting twist.


The student also noted the studies that correlated power with height (more CEOs and presidents are tall etc.) and argued that those really high heels are not sexy shoes at all but a response to power that is on a subconscious level at least, achieved only when you can "look them in the eye."


OK, this is interesting enough but the conclusion that women in power suits and super heels are really cross-dressers sort of hit me out of left field. Digest that idea folks.


I think this is why I teach.

8 comments:

Gail D. said...

I am amazed--that you are just realizing this. I'm sure you knew this on some level, just not expressed like this. As a previous banker, it was always obvious to me. A power suit is a power suit. Who has the power? Mostly the men. So we had to wear power as well. Dark colors. Ties. No frou-frou. Closed shoes. It worked quite well.

Gail D.

Barbara said...

Oh Gail I got it, did it too in many jobs but the idea that it was about men being at ease only if you looked like a man sort of was a slant I didn't get, interesting. I thought it was more about my eyes than theirs.

Jodie said...

Very cool....I sort of "got" this intuitively, but your student makes an interesting conclusion and argument. It's fun when they shock and surprise you, isn't it?

BetsyV said...

I love that extension to cross-dressing. Very original. I hope the writer got an extra point ;)

Bunny said...

I'm going to challenge that high heel theory. I read somewhere that upon surveying female CEOs of large companies, the majority were petite. It seems being petite was less of threat when trying to break through the glass ceiling . FWIW...

jirons42 said...

I had a very short friend who always wore VERY high heels because she said beening so short made her feel unseen.

jirons42 said...

Whoops - that's being - not beening

Psycho Sue- Sew Misunderstood said...

What's funny is: I respond NEGATIVELY to this type of dress. It evokes feelings of " fakeness, back door deals, corporate BS, social ladder climbing politics, stupid corporate buzz words, untrustworthyness...etc" Men or women in power suits are not seen favorably in my eyes because of the real-life experiences I have with "management." I thought crossers dressed because they identified with the gender role more than their born physical gender. In this case the women are using the clothing as a way of blending in, not as a way to make THEMSELVES feel more at ease because they IDENTIFY as a male gender...