NOTE: This entry was inspired by my increasing frustration with the tendency of many young women to embrace and pander to the kinds of stereotypes that ensure they will never be taken as seriously, paid as much, or treated as well as their male colleagues. Many of my former students will be starting their careers in the next few years, and I don’t want to see them fail. This riff is for them. I hope they will find it useful.
The Seven Habits of Highly Ineffective Women
Habit 1: Baby-talking around men. I realize we can’t all sound like Lauren Bacall, but when you deliberately talk from your soft palate instead of your larynx, you are sending the message that you are small, immature, and vulnerable. This could attract a knight in shining armor, but it’s more likely to attract a predator looking for a weak-willed woman he can control easily. If a guy finds your fake baby voice sexy, RUN, because you do NOT want him living under your roof when the FBI raids his computer.
Habit 2: Playing stupid around men. Every time I need a man to take me seriously, I have to start by proving I am not the idiot you pretend to be. Stop it. Real men are not intimidated by bright women. Behaving like an intelligent, responsible adult will not keep you from finding Mr. Right — but it might keep you from wasting time on Mr. Condescending, Mr. Insecure, and Mr. Insufferable.
Habit 3: Inappropriate attire. I started to write a long riff about this, but the bottom line is: Quit dressing like a hooker, and quit doing stupid crap like wearing stiletto heels to the ballpark. It doesn’t make you look hot. It makes you look like Snooki.
Habit 4: Duck face. JUST STOP IT. If you’re old enough to vote, you’re old enough to know that you look like a conceited bimbo when you purse your lips and leer into the camera. Your future employer is going to Google you. Do you really want this to be the hiring manager’s first impression of you?
Habit 5: Passive-aggressive behavior. If you have a problem with somebody, confront that person directly. If the problem isn’t important enough to merit a confrontation, it isn’t important. Period. There is no situation in which passive-aggressive behavior is acceptable. It is always immature, self-serving, dishonest, and cowardly — which is precisely how you will be perceived if you do it. Don’t.
Habit 6: Gossip and backstabbing. Ownership of a uterus does not obligate you to make up crap about your enemies, complain about your colleagues, or revel in other people’s misfortunes behind their back. You can damage an enemy’s reputation with gossip — but in the process, you reveal something about yourself, and it’s probably not something you want people to know.
Habit 7: Whining. If you are being asked to do something immoral or illegal, report it. If you are being asked to do something unpleasant or inconvenient, either suck it up or look for a new job. Either way, don’t whine. Whining doesn’t help. It just irritates potential allies and makes you look unprofessional.