Empowered women, empower women,” says American plus-sized model, Denise Bidot, at a women’s empowerment event in August. Hosted by J.Crew and College Fashionista, the event was called Girls Run the World.
Along with Natalie Cantell, fashion director of clothing brand Who What Wear, and non-profit Girl’s Inc. specialist Indiana Almanzar, the discussion shed some insight on how women have progressed in today’s society and the struggles that professionals in all fields seem to face.
1. “Leadership is knowing how to follow.” – Almanzar
The members of the panel discussed how many aspects of the workforce are based on competition. There’s competition to excel in your career focus, competition to lead in group projects, and even competition to receive a promotion. It’s come to the point where women don’t realize the need to stick together. There are times when you want to take the lead, knowing there is someone who has more experience and has the capabilities to accomplish a task more efficiently. Instead of trying to be overpowering, it never hurts to listen.
You have to find a balance where you feel that your voice is heard without drowning others out. It’s always a good idea to recognize and acknowledge others’ perspectives and invite others into a discussion. Don’t wait to speak meekly, but also don’t interrupt.
Many times, women can have as much bias against other women as men do. This includes bias toward men as well. We sometimes unknowingly contribute to the problem. As women, our goal is equality, and we have to rid ourselves of unconscious stereotypes in order to reach it. This includes combating women’s own fears. Our various voices can create better solutions and lead to better business practices.
2. “We’re trained to reflect compliments.” – Almanzar
When someone compliments you, your first instinct may be to compliment them in return. This isn’t a negative or bad response, but it’s a way of reflecting the compliment away from you. At times, you compliment the person in return simply because of your gratitude toward them. There’s nothing wrong with accepting compliments, as it doesn’t mean you’re arrogant or conceited.
This is the same when sending emails or even when showing emotion. Women sometimes feel the need to say sorry. According to Almanzar, “We can’t move forward without them redefining masculinity.”
Instead of saying sorry, it’s better to say thank you. Thank you is so powerful because instead of feeling the need to apologize over what you can’t control, or what is deemed too feminine or too expressive, thank you shows gratitude. Even the word “just” is a way of apologizing. It’s the slight changes in your vocabulary that can bring power and strength to what you say.
3. “It’s that question, it’s that power to ask.” – Bidot
One concept not realized is the power and fearlessness of asking questions. Bidot mentioned her wish for people to be “more hands on,” and how the fear of taking action can do nothing but hinder one’s success. In order to get your foot in the door, you have to be bold and ask. You have to oversell yourself. As Almanzar said, “When we create these safe spaces, they have a voice.”
This is one of the reasons for the creation of Girls Inc. The nonprofit organization strives to inspire girls to be strong, smart and independent through “advocacy and direct service.”
It’s important for girls and women to create safe spaces for one another. In a more masculine environment, it can be hard to express yourself. Having these “safe spaces” can create positive discussion and reflection on how to prevent concerns of self-doubt in a male-dominated workforce.
4. “You can control your state of mind but not their decision.” – Bidot
When going in for an interview, you have to come in with a positive state of mind. After the interview is over, Bidot tells of how she “does her best, screams,” and then goes on to the next opportunity. You can control your attitude and how you choose to portray how everything went. You may not be able to change their decision or viewpoint of you, but you can choose how to handle the situation, whether it’s good news or bad.
Our thoughts, feelings, beliefs, and attitudes can have a positive or negative effect on our biological functioning. Negative thoughts can lead to anxiety and can affect how we continue to function daily. Keeping a positive mindset will help you strive forward to apply to more opportunities.
As women, we have come a long way from the wrongdoings of the past, yet we have to continue to strive for better opportunities and internal advancement.