I will never forget the conversation I once had with a former boss during an internship. We got along great and I had very much enjoyed our frank discussions about journalism and what it will take to become a great news producer. He knew I had the basics covered with experience and education so we continued to delve into the specifics of on interview etiquette, networking, etc. He reviewed my resume and cover letters and approved. Then he steered the conversation toward how I dressed.
My male boss had no problem with the way I dressed for my job at the time. He even admitted I probably dressed nicer than I needed to given my intern status. He wanted me to know that if I wanted to ever make it to the big leagues, I would need to be more stylish. I would need to wear heels, cut my hair, and wear more makeup. He spoke fairly cautiously about the topic as to not offend me, but regardless, the conversation stung. My background to that point had been in television production where, in my opinion, girls were less harshly judged about their fashion choices because most days we ran around all day and needed comfortable shoes and jeans so we had a place to hook a walkie-talkie.
I, of course, knew the double standard for female, on-air journalists. Female cable news reporters are required to be near Barbie-like, while my perception is that male reporters are just required to be able to yell the loudest. But I was disappointed as I went through grad school and various internships to see that there was a double standard for the behind-the-scenes female journalists as well. Journalism is in an industry in which talent should be based solely on a person’s words and stories, not what they look like.
I continue to work hard in my studies of journalism, including at my current job at Girls Inc. making videos for the organization. I think the best way to combat the double standards that women face in the workplace is through education and self-confidence.
What are some of the ways that you have faced a double standard or inequality in your profession? What can girls do to help fight these differences?