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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

Etiquette column: Young women must dress and act professionally to be viewed that way in a male-dominated field

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press

Speak confidently, and watch your body language.

Friday, March 17, 2017 01:30 am
Q: Karen, I am a well-educated young woman working in a field that is male dominated. Sometimes I feel like I am invisible and am not taken seriously because of my age and gender. Do you have any suggestions on what I can do to be perceived as a real professional? A: There are times when youth and gender can seem like an obstacle in the work place, especially one that is male dominated, but there are some things that all women can do to improve how they are perceived in the work place:

* First, dress the part. Be sure that you are dressing professionally. Women often sabotage themselves by dressing too sexy or too casual at work. Wear a jacket or blazer to add personal authority to your look. Avoid clothing that is too tight or too revealing — no cleavage. The more skin you show, the less professional it is.

* Speak with confidence. Avoid terms and phrases that can make what you say sound less definitive. For instance, phrases such as “I think,” “I feel” or “I just” make you sound unsure about what you are saying. Try saying, “My research shows ...,” or “This study confirms my idea about ... .” Do speak up and offer ideas.

* Develop a firm handshake, and don't be afraid to initiate a handshake. The person who initiates the handshake has the advantage. Make good eye contact when speaking with someone. Being able to make eye contact when speaking makes all of us appear more confident.

* Stand for introductions when meeting and greeting someone in your office or out in public. If women stay seated when the men stand, they are relinquishing some of their personal authority. The business world is gender neutral. That means there is the same expectation for women as there is for men.

* Watch your body language. Over 80 percent of our communication is nonverbal. Standing straight and walking with purpose speaks volumes.

* Consider finding a mentor who is a seasoned professional to guide you through the rough spots.

Karen Hickman is a local certified etiquette/protocol consultant and owner of Professional Courtesy. Email questions to features@news-sentinel.com.



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