I have a new obsession…
Massive, blingy, bright and bold gold trainers.
I work in a corporate, male dominated industry and it is always flattering and often positive to hear the words “I don’t see gender”, or “It doesn’t matter if you are male or female, as long as you can do the job well”. These are great statements to hear and show that we have come a long way in previous decades. However, I believe that at times, this is a double edged sword. Diversity is a really great thing, something we should acknowledge and celebrate! Often men and women can have differing approaches and needs in the work place. If we simply enforce women to behave like men, we are restricting their full potential. The roles women are increasingly stepping into and wonderfully welcomed into have been created by men.
So how are we as women meant to behave? Are we to loose our femininity and conduct ourselves in a more masculine way? What do we wear? What will be judged against? How do we negotiate it all?
Comparison also plays a large part in all of this. I work in an office where I am the only women. And it’s GREAT! Yes at times, I know my colleagues will not be so interested in the quality of my Gel Manicure and I may hold back chatting about some aspects of life. But 90% I’ll tell them anyway! I do not shy away from having a pink fluffy pen or being any less “me”. To do so would be stressful and false. Guess what… I also enjoy debating the merits of VAR and am a huge Bath and Welsh rugby follower. (This Six Nations is not going as planned…) And if I am honest, the boys talk about the quality of hairdressers and footwear styles much more than I do!!
My company have allowed me the space and time to work out what does it mean to be a woman in a male dominated industry and how do I want to present myself. The answer and the best possible outcome… truthfully. I have not been made to feel I have to act and present myself in a certain way. I can just be myself. Yes I have to have the guts the step into an environment where I am the minority and I am different, yes I have to work some things out for myself. But my male colleagues are totally behind me and walk the walk with me. They are open to learning and discovering what being a women in this industry is like, just as much as I am.
One of the things that has been hard, is that when I leave neuco HQ the world is a little different. I can sum this up in one experience at IBC last year. I walked into the ladies toilets, to find the cubicles taken up; but women resting their blistered, bleeding feet having felt the need to be in killer heels all day. For me this sums up what it is like being a Woman in Tech. On the outside, and by most women are welcomed and encouraged but the underlying subliminal issues do not sing from the same hymn sheet. We are expected to present ourselves in an unrealistic and traditional way.
Many men I meet at NAB and IBC are in chinos and trainers, or at the very least in smart more supportive shoes. It is universally accepted that this is perfectly fine attire. Yet women do not have this option. We have two choices, crippling stilettos or totally unsupportive pumps to complement office wear attire. I wore flat shoes last year, as we know you are on your feet all day. By day one I had blisters that had bled through, and I still have a Plantar Fibroma (a benign growth/nodule caused by walking for extending periods in unsupportive shoes). HOW and WHY is this still ok? Women should not feel they have to suffer in this way, just for appearances sake and to be taken seriously. Ultimately we should be able to wear supportive shoes like our male counter-parts
What do you think? (Seriously - I’d love to know!)
This is about so much more than shoes. No matter your background or identity, you cannot be what you do not see. So, after spending many evenings in discussion with my partner and extensive research, I have decided that starting at NAB this year, I am going to be wearing a supportive, comfortable pair of kick ass, gold blingy trainers. Gold and blingy to boost my confidence, yes… but also to make a statement. I am taking my wellbeing into account. I am going to have the guts to wear what my feet need to do the job, not what I think people want me to wear. I’m not letting my wardrobe impact my levels of anxiety. Blingy, bright and bold gold trainers, because we should be allowed to be ourselves, embrace difference and, being a woman in the industry can and should be brilliant and golden.