I’ll Take a Seat at the Table, Please!

Success Is Not Gender Specific

Notice: this image only shows male business professionals, not females.
Notice: this image only shows male business professionals, not females.

For the past year, I have been lucky enough to work for a company that has extended wonderful opportunities my way so that I will be able to accumulate a variety of job experiences within the Marketing and Human Resources departments.  However, I have noticed a type of hierarchy within the office that is debatably concerning.  For the most part, the males of the office tend to be the “superiors”, with only a handful of women in higher power situations.  Most other women are only promoted so many times until they find themselves stuck in their job positions.  Though this tends to be the case in most businesses around the nation, I have met some very ambitious women that have successfully worked their ways into the higher rankings.

Ouch! Where Did That Ceiling Come from?

In this 2010 TED talk given by Sheryl Sandberg, the lack of women in leadership roles in the United States is discussed.  During her talk, Sandberg states her three pieces of advice for women that have a desire to remain in the work force: sit at the table, make your partner a real partner, and do not leave before you leave.  The piece of advice that really stands out is the first, sit at the table.  Part of the concept of sitting at the table is not falling victim to the glass ceiling phenomenon.  Julia T. Wood describes the glass ceiling as an invisible limit that prevents a marginalized group, women in this case, from further advancement.  Another, very large part of this is the term glass walls.  As defined by Wood, this is the term used to describe the placement of women in “pink collar” positions typically associated with women.   The office that I have been working in is a great example of this gender segregation in the workplace.

Take Notes, Everyone!

As I said earlier, the leadership roles within the office that I work in consists mainly of males.  The individuals that hold these positions are known as Producers, and they are the salesforce that acquires new clients; less than 10% of this salesforce is female.  Of the nine Producers that work for this specific division, one has made exceptional strides in the short time that they have been on the salesforce.  This producer is number one in the office for selling new business and is in charge of the largest property and casualty account managed in the division.  This individual is ranked number 72 out of 650 in the country for selling new business, and is consecutively in the top 50 each month for acquiring a new business sale that generates more than $2500 in revenue.  This producer is also a woman.

Pull Up a Chair, Ladies!

Nicki Rojas is an extremely motivated, intelligent, ambitious woman that decided early on that she wanted to be successful. Not only has she surpassed all of the male Producers in her office in an astoundingly short time frame, but she is also doing better than 90% of the male salespersons countrywide.  Nicki has not allowed herself to settle, she has continuously strived to be the best and continue her education so as not to bump her head on the glass ceiling.  She has asserted herself well enough to be in a leadership position within the office that is typically held by males.  She has pulled up a nice, comfortable armchair and taken a seat front and center.

Growing Up a Barbie Girl

 

Barbie is a tall, thin, pretty female; this kind of image reinforces gender roles.
Barbie is a tall, thin, pretty female; this kind of image reinforces gender roles.

What Is a Barbie Girl?

Many young girls grow up not only playing with Barbie dolls but idealizing Barbie’s body as well.  In an article from the Huffington Post, it is stated that Barbie as a real person would stand around six feet tall, has a 39” bust, an 18” waist, and measures about 33” around the hips.  Barbie would weigh about 110 pounds and have a body mass index of 16.24.  Barbie also has long, blonde hair and a fully made up face.  This is the appearance that young girls are exposed to at an early age and are taught to idealize.  A “barbie girl” in today’s society is one that has internalized this gendered norm that dictates that they are supposed to look a certain way.

 

What Makes Me a Barbie Girl?

In Julia T. Wood’s, Gendered Lives: Communication, Gender, and Culture, the social learning theory is discussed.  Social learning theory is the process by which gendered norms and behaviors are learned through observation and reinforcement, whether it be positive or negative.  This is a theory that is extremely applicable to many different  gendered norms that have developed through time.  In this specific case, girls learn to associate Barbie with society’s standard of beauty from an early age.  As they grow older, this idea of beauty is reinforced in many ways.  When young girls grow into young women with small waistlines, large busts, pretty hair, and made-up faces, they are told they are pretty; they receive attention for the way that they look.  For those of us that grow up to be curvier, or those of us with smaller busts and of shorter stature, we receive negative attention in the form of name-calling, body-shaming, and bullying.  In this way, girls have learned that they need to look a certain way in order to be accepted.

 

The New Barbie Girl 

Barbie as a company is expanding on their product and changing what it means to be a “Barbie Girl”.  With the extension of the Barbie line, there are now dolls of different proportions in terms of both height and weight, different hair styles and colors, various outfits, as well as many other appearance changes such as race.

The new line of Barbies include dolls of all different types.
The new line of Barbies include dolls of all different types.

Hopefully, with these big changes and differences, young girls will start to learn that every individual of every size, shape, and color are beautiful.  Though social learning theory is applicable even with this new learned idea,  young girls would be learning that individuality is perfectly acceptable instead of thinking they needed to look like Barbie.

 

 

Hey, What’s Up, Hello – I’m Emily!

The above is a picture of myself from December 2015.
The above is a picture of myself from December 2015.

My name is Emily, and I in my junior year here at Longwood University.  I grew up in Virginia Beach, Virginia, but chose to continue my education after high school in the small town of Farmville, Virginia.  I am pursuing a degree in Communication Studies with a concentration in public relations.

I have completed multiple classes offered through the communication studies department at Longwood, and have learned a great deal in all of them.  In addition, I recently completed my first internship in the summer of 2015.  I worked at Brown & Brown Insurance – Norfolk Division under the human resources department.

As far as my experience with gender goes, I have personally felt the pressures of socialized gender norms as well as attempted to break through those norms.  Today’s society has this specific idea that women need to be small in order to be considered “pretty” or even just “normal” in most cases.  As a result of these societal pressures along with other factors, I as well as many other women have fallen victim to a mental disorder that causes a belief that it is necessary to maintain a certain appearance in order to be beautiful.  My personal experiences with this have caused me to adopt the belief that what everyone saying you must be in not necessarily the truth. It is okay to step outside of the box and differ from what is “normal”, and I hope to hear the opinions of others in the class regarding their experiences with various gender expectations.