Joining the Boys’ Club When You’re a Woman

Boys' club at work | CorporetteShould you join the office boys’ club if you’ll be the only woman? What if your male coworkers meet and talk shop outside of work while taking part in an activity — such as tennis or golf — that you don’t even like? Reader K, who works outside of the U.S., wonders:

I have a question regarding the ‘old boy’s club’ at work; my workplace is fairly conservative, with only 15% of the workforce women (although the number is increasing in the younger generation), but quite politically correct and thus nothing seriously sexist or misogynist. My male boss, in his mid-50s, has been fantastic to work with, and as a recruit (from a different company, relocating quite a distance), I’ve been happy with my position and also see potential in the company itself. BUT, after three years, I see that there is a ‘boy’s club’, where they get together and play tennis, have a beer, and get things done. My boss has even suggested that I join the tennis club (playing once a week or so) — but I’ll be the only female and really don’t like tennis. What would you do?

Tough question, K. We’ve talked about networking with older men, dealing with sexist coworkers, and whether or not to pick up the tab at lunch with a group of male partners, but not specifically about this topic. I’d ask myself a few questions first:

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Career Coaches: Why, How, When

career-coachesCareer coaches: how do you find one?  Why might you need one?  When in your career should you look for one?  Let’s discuss.  First, Reader J’s question:

Have you ever written about using the services of a career coach? How does one go about finding someone to work with? I work in tax/accounting in the NYC/NJ area and I need some career coaching at this point in my life. I have worked in public accounting so far and need some help advancing in my career aside from the technical skills.

Great question, Reader J!  I know readers were discussing this in this morning’s TPS thread.  While we’ve talked about career changes and other career transitions, we haven’t really talked about this. [Read more…]

What to Wear to a “Resort Casual” Business Event in Florida?

resort-business-casualWhat do you wear to an event that calls for “resort casual” business clothing? (Or: what do you wear for business at the beach?)  Key factors: You already look young for your age, you’re at least 20 years younger than any of your colleagues, and you’ll be meeting some of them for the first time. Oh, also: The meeting is in Florida, so to complicate matters further, you’ll probably encounter heat and high humidity outside and frigid air conditioning inside. Reader C wonders:

Can you help me with suggestions on “resort casual attire” for a marketing meeting in Florida? I’ve been on my traveling/remote team for 1.5 years but have yet to meet some of the team. I am not only a young looking 28-year-old but my entire team’s junior by 20-25 years. My first thought when we say “resort casual” is maxi skirts and tropical dresses which doesn’t exactly scream take-me-seriously. I have a few thoughts on do’s and dont’s and was wondering if you had any guidance or additional thoughts. Thank you for any help!

Do’s: Ankle length slacks, flow-y top, colorful scarfs, knit pencil skirts, flats, cardigans
Dont’s: Sandals, maxi skirts/dresses, tank tops, pumps, blazers, tights
On the fence: Jeans, white pants, wedges

Reader M has as similar question, although this one involves a party that’s part of a trade show:

Hi! I live in Roanoke, VA, and am attending a Vendor Show in Orlando, FL, next week. The second day of the show, there will be a “Dinner & Beach Bash.” What should I wear?

We talked about a slightly different dress code, “resort chic” (who makes these things up, anyway?) a few years ago, and also what to wear to an office pool party (cringe), but not this exactly. [Read more…]

Long Flights: How to Look Professional But Be Comfortable

dressing for long flightYou want to look professional during a long flight with colleagues, but you’re understandably not too eager to wear a suit for several hours of waking, sleeping, and eating. So, with your trusty flight outfit of a fleece + yoga pants staying in the closet at home, what can you choose that will be comfortable but still appropriate if you end up sitting next to your boss? We’ve talked about traveling internationally in comfort and style, what to pack for an extended business trip, and traveling with coworkers, but not this exactly. Reader N wonders:

Could you do a post on comfortable, but professional attire for international or long flights? I have an upcoming business trip where my boss and two colleagues will be on a long flight with me. I want to look presentable but still be comfortable for the long flight. Thanks!

I can see this being a concern not only in this situation (traveling directly with coworkers) but in a situation I’ve been in, where there’s a conference that almost everyone in your industry attends, so even if you’re not traveling with direct coworkers, you end up seeing a million colleagues all over the airport, on flights, and via other travel hubs. A lot of sites have comfy-looking, wrinkle-free travel clothes (we just featured a washable top from Chadwicks’s line on CorporetteMoms’ Washable Wednesday) — but what is the chic alternative to the flowy pants-with-matching-loose-jacket look?  A few thoughts:

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Gift Guide: Personalized, Small Gifts for Your Assistant or Secretary

secretary-giftsWhat sort of gifts are you getting for your secretary or assistant this year?  In our last poll, the majority of people noted that they just gave their assistants and secretaries cash for a holiday present.  Still, a small, personalized gift in ADDITION to the cash gift is a nice touch (time and budget permitting, of course) — it shows your assistant you really do care about him or her.  So today I thought I’d round up a few small gift ideas to accompany that larger cash gift.  (Note that Above the Law‘s discussion on how much to give is more recent than ours — I agree with their New York rule of thumb of taking your seniority and multiplying it by $100, but know your office.)

Our other gift guides are below — note that each one has a Pinterest board that is still being updated as we find stuff. (Here’s our “personalized additional gift” board to go with this post.)

 

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How to Blend Conservative Style with Business Casual

business-casualHow should you follow a business casual dress code (and avoid looking overdressed) when your personal style tends toward classic, understated, and conservative — without buying an entirely new wardrobe? Oh, and also: you’re in a technical field, you’re the youngest employee in your office, and the only woman there besides the secretary. Reader K wonders:

I have recently started at my dream job which is a technical one and I work with men only (besides the receptionist). I am on a very tight budget but have invested in basic pieces such as good quality black suits, classic dresses, blouses, black pencil skirt. The dress code is business casual. Yet the other day I wore a classic grey dress, black blazer, heels, and pearls and the CEO made a comment before a meeting insinuating I was overdressed. He wears cords and a polo everyday. What can I wear to work? I prefer to wear more conservative clothes and feel more professional in blacks, and greys and dark color palettes with a small pop of color (like a maroon or emerald blouse). I am in my early 20s and look especially young and am the youngest in my office and prefer the clean cut conservative professional look so am at a loss of what to wear. Any help would be much appreciated.

We’ve talked about how best to dress in business casual in a male-dominated, technical workplace as a younger woman, dealing with other women’s backhanded compliments about dressing well, and being told by a male boss that you dress too well and need to dress “frumpier,” but not exactly this.  Personal style is often important, but sometimes showing that you can “read” company culture requires dressing in a different way than you might otherwise.  Furthermore, when you look young, it can come off even worse — like you’re playing dress up.  So here are a few ideas…

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