Gini Dietrich

The Double Standard in Women’s Equality is Alive and Well

By: Gini Dietrich | August 22, 2013 | 

The Double Standard in Women's Equality is Alive and Well

By Gini Dietrich

Alright boys and girls. We need to have a little chat.

The chat isn’t a new one for Spin Sucks readers. In fact, it’s not a new one in the movement for women’s equality in the past 60 years.

But, even in 2013, there continues to be a double standard about women in the workplace so we have to continue to have the chat.

Marissa Mayer, the new chief at Yahoo!, did an interview and photo shoot with Vogue, one of the more serious fashion magazines out there.


A female executive put on pretty clothes and talked about how much she loves her new job?

Well, crap. There goes women’s equality. Now if we put on a Michael Kors dress and Yves Saint Laurent stiletto heels and do photo shoots for Vogue we won’t be taken seriously.

I’m sorry. Maybe I’m not supposed to say this, but if Vogue asked me to do a photo shoot and interview with them, I would jump at the chance. Put me in pretty clothes, do my hair and makeup, photoshop out some of my physical flaws, and let me talk about the business I’m growing? I would LOVE that.

The Double Standard

But apparently there is s still a double standard in this world.

CNN, among many other serious news outlets, used headlines such as, “Sexed Up and Smart,” “The Geek as Babe,” and “Women: Please Don’t be Stylish. Also Please Don’t Be Frumpy.”

We can’t freaking win. Hillary Clinton is lambasted for wearing pantsuits.  Tarja Halonen, the Finnish president, for wearing “unflattering styles.” And now Marissa Mayer for – gasp! – looking gorgeous in Vogue.

If she were a man, this would not be news. Richard Branson has been photographed and interviewed. Mark Cuban has, too. Where is the backlash about either of them looking sexy with a couple of buttons undone on their shirts?

I just finished reading Lean In (blog post forthcoming) and one of the things that struck me was this: Women make up more than half of the world’s population, but we don’t have more than half – heck, not even half – of the power.

Work Together…Not Against One Another

What would happen if we all worked together to gain equality versus fighting one another all of the time?

What would happen if we refused to be interviewed for these kinds of stories?

What would happen if we stopped nodding our head in agreement about the double standard and letting it make the rounds?

What would happen if, oh I don’t know, we supported one another instead of judging each other because someone might not make the same choices we make?

Men do that. Why can’t we do that?

I will leave you with this: We can’t expect men to treat us differently than we treat ourselves. Marissa Mayer doing an interview and photo shoot with Vogue is not news. If anything, it helps her gain more exposure and brand awareness for the work she’s doing AND it empowers young women to set their sights on big career moves (if that’s what they want to do).

I read the article. I looked at the pictures. I’m inspired and feel empowered. Why not leave it at that?

P.S. You can thank Lindsay Bell-Wheeler for getting me fired up about this. After we had an email exchange about the ridiculousness of it all, all she wrote back to me was, “BLOG POST!”

P.P.S. We have Jay Baer joining us on August 29 for a free webinar about his new book, Youtility. You can register here.

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • I *love* when you get fired up.

    Now make me a sammich, maybe?

  • While I’m still having a hard time with the visual of Marc Cuban looking sexy with his shirt undone, I think you nailed it. There is such a double standard that a woman can’t be pretty AND smart AND successful all at the same time. 
    I’ve been on many sides of the double standard – most notably back in the 90s when I was one of two female news camera operators in my city. I lugged 40lbs of camera gear up to Parliament Hill on a regular basis. I set up alongside all the male camera operators for press conferences, and got called “sweetheart” and “honey” a lot, and would be asked if that tripod was too heavy for me to carry. I would do news scrums with men a lot bigger AND a lot smaller than I, and I’d get the best shots (Elbows UP!). 
    There’s still a lot of stigma around women being powerful, successful and strong. The best thing we can do is keep moving forward, be ourselves, and not listen to those who criticize us. 
    Thanks for sparking this conversation Gini – and when you end up on the cover of vogue we will celebrate!!! 

    • suzemuse You made me laugh out loud with your first sentence! Sandberg tells a story in Lean In about meeting Tip O’Neill when he was speaker of the house. He asked her if she was on the cheer squad and she relates how that made her feel. Here she is, being introduced to the speaker of the house as one of the up-and-coming pages and he asks her about cheerleading? It’s devastating.

  • Excellent! I love this! Heck yes, Melissa should have done Vogue shoot. As you say- I have seen similar ones of Branson or Cuban and such. Success and confidence are sexy- so why the heck not? Why is it “only” ok for us to admire models or actors for their physical beauty? 
    We’ve had this talk up and down, Lil G, about the challenges of being smart and confident and attractive. It seems women will forgive each other having one or two traits, but once someone seems to have all of them, the claws come out. We set up these impossible standards of “having it all”, then when someone does get close to achieving it, we hate on them for it. 
    I’m glad Marissa did this. Good for her. I am going to look at the pictures AND read the article now. I will even search the link on Yahoo. (That last bit was a blatant lie.)

    • RebeccaTodd The blatant lie! LOL! 
      I read the CNN article yesterday and it made my blood boil. To be fair, they did present both sides of it, but the fact that it’s even news is ridiculous. She’s an attractive woman. She has great taste in clothes. AND she’s a powerful executive. So, freaking, what?
      If I ever get a Vogue interview and photo shoot, I’m wearing my cycling clothes. Let’s see what they have to say about that.

      • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd HAWT.

      • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd You scamp! The whole point was to showcase how you could be gorgeous and successful…Vogue deserved no comeuppance! (I love that now we are debating this mythical shoot)

      • ginidietrich RebeccaTodd Oh I just read one of the CNN ones, now I am madderer. “We women would like to feel that for at least some of us, sheer competence would make looks a non-issue in our lives.” – Just to pick one point to rant on, since when did “fashion” become synonymous with “looks”? I really like that in Vogue they are showing her wardrobe, full of stylish and feminine clothes without a men’s style business suit in the mix at all. I appreciate that they are showing us that you don’t have to dress like a man to be good at business stuff. And as a bit of a fashoinista, the looks and cuts that they highlight in her typical work week would be flattering on almost any figure. Like it or not, your looks- as in looking pulled together, current, and approachable- DO have a lot to do with your success at work, for men and women. And that has nothing to do with being “hot or not”. BOOM! I’m up to speed now…

    • RebeccaTodd Exactly! The line between admiration and jealousy is blurry to say the least. If we don’t show each other respect, how can we expect others to?

      • TaraGeissinger RebeccaTodd Well said! Certainly, this is not “for women only”- men do some of this too I believe- but women seem to have made it an art form.

        • RebeccaTodd TaraGeissinger Art form. Love it! 🙂 And sadly, so true.

  • Rvirginia

    Love this!! Great insights. And it looks like you’re in good company:
    I like the part about how male leaders including presidents are featured with photos from the golf course. How is this any different from a female perspective? Nice piece!!

    • Rvirginia Thank you for the link! I’m headed there next to read it.

  • Did anyone call her a, gasp, “Mom?” I mean, look at that svelteness and come hitherness and that SEX appeal! I’m so jealous of her genetics. Good for her.
    Flipside. Hmm, I think Putin would relish a photo shoot for Vogue, right? Any other male figurehead? Maybe Berlusconi. How about Bill Gates? I mean he’s a CEO, right? 
    Yeah, point made. Sizzle.

    • Soulati | Hybrid PR HAH Putin!!!

      • RebeccaTodd Soulati | Hybrid PR The Russian media *loves* to play up Putin’s masculinity — and his publicity people keeps pushing the envelope.

    • Soulati | Hybrid PR Putin without a shirt on! Let’s get it done!

  • Now that I’ve got the jokes out of the way, time for a thoughtful comment: 
    For the majority of my career, I’ve worked for women. Highly successful, powerful AND attractive women. I respected the hell out of them because they ran successful businesses and maintained families. 
    CNN lost my respect and my clicks a long time ago due to their watered-down reporting and sensationalist-wrought articles. It’s sad to see a player like that slowly circle the bowl, but I digress. 
    It annoys me that Mayer is identified as a CEO almost as an afterthought. Yes, she was pregnant. Yes, she canned remote work for Yahoo! (and that was an important move to heal a diseased culture). Yes, she’s a MOM.  And you know what? She’s righting a ship that floundered under previous leadership — and doing a bang-up job at it, too. That’s the news.

    • jasonkonopinski I don’t know what to do when you leave a thoughtful comment!

      • ginidietrich Was that boom you falling out of your chair? I’ll go back to making fart noises with my armpit. 🙂

  • I’m adequate in photoshop, and I do have a similar white chair if you want do go for it ginidietrich . 
    With that being said : this is the statement that struck me —, but we don’t have more than half – heck, not even half – of the power.  ….. What would happen if, oh I don’t know, we supportedone another instead of judging each other because someone might not make the same choices we make? Men do that. Why can’t we do that?
    ^Obviously I’m not a female, but it makes sense to me. Lets whittle it down to sheer numbers, more than half > half. It stands to reason if women “organized” and “supported” they could change a lot more than men could. Just an observation, but it makes a whole lot of sense.
    I pose this statement: If Marissa was a man, and did the same thing, here is what would have happened: women would have ooh+awwed and men wouldn’t have cared. But if a women does it, men are interested (sex value) and women either “eww” or “defend”. So because it seems men control the narrative, (in the minority), of the “which matters more”, that women (the majority) default too.
    It seems backwards. 
    I don’t know, that’s a bit broken/confusing, but I think you’ll understand my point.

    • ryancox ginidietrich I think you’ve got it Ryan- if men notice and think “sexy”, women seem to get jealous. Pity.

    • ryancox In an email exchange earlier, jelenawoehr brought up a very good point. Our president was photographed without a shirt on in Hawaii (and looked really good!) and no one thought he was less powerful or couldn’t run our country because of it.

  • I think part of the problem is that we’re still figuring out, as a culture, what femininity looks like in the workplace and especially in the “boardroom.” Can you be pretty and powerful, while not using sex as power? I feel like we don’t have answers to these kinds of questions as a society.
    Also, people are just trying to get pageviews. What better way than to write up some unsophisticated hype on gender and the workplace.

    • ryanjriehl See there is something to this “sex as power” thing that we need to look at. My looks generally cause me more trouble than good. Never has it made things easier- rather, I have to struggle against things like the “dumb blonde” stereotype frequently. Our culture sells the idea that good looks mean you wield some special power, but I feel it’s another barrier.  I think the conversation should be “Wow! She managed to get respected for her brain IN SPITE of being attractive! However did she manage that?”

      • RebeccaTodd  Huh, I’ve never had someone share that experience with me before. I don’t have those prejudices, but I guess some people do. I always looked at the issue with the results from social science research that attractive people are more easily successful, but that there’s a negative side for women.

        • ryanjriehl RebeccaTodd Yes, I really don’t buy that research, or it needs to be updated. I can’t speak to how that works for men, but for women, looking too good can cause all sorts of dramas.

        • ryanjriehl RebeccaTodd I’m not a drop dead gorgeous woman, but I’m cute. Early in my career, my job was to go out and talk to corn and soybean growers. Part of our PR program was a satellite media tour (long before that would have been cool) and my job was to get interviews with these guys, while they worked, for the tour. Every, single time I set foot on a new farm, those guys would look at me like they were about to waste all of their valuable time with some pretty ditz from the big city. It got to be a game for me…how quickly could I get them to change their mind, once I opened my mouth and they discovered how smart I am. In fact, I would do things to try to make it even harder – wear heels and a skirt to a farm, for instance. By the time the project ended, my producer and camera guy were taking bets on how quickly the growers would change their minds about me. That never would have been an issue had my male colleagues gone out.

        • ginidietrich ryanjriehl RebeccaTodd Exactly, G! I am not saying I am some sort of model, I’m pretty average I think. I recall the first time presenting to a group of tech department heads- the leader introduces me to a room of men saying “well she’s much better looking than the last rep!”. They all turn, and I can feel their eyes, read their thoughts… But of course they couldn’t tell at a glance I’m redneck to the core and had ’em all laughing in minutes. BUT- had I NOT been a country girl who grew up with brothers- it could have been very very uncomfortable. I was all of about 27 at the time, too. It could have been a very upsetting experience for another young woman. Objectification in such settings can really mess with your mind.

        • RebeccaTodd ginidietrich Thanks for sharing your experiences. I feel like I’ve learned something important about women’s experiences on the job. I try really hard to not treat and think about women in those sorts of ways. So, I guess I forget that other people do and that you have these experiences.

        • ryanjriehl RebeccaTodd ginidietrich Yes Ryan, it is sad that we even have to consider that this happens.

        • ryanjriehl RebeccaTodd I wish there were more like you out there, Ryan.

        • ginidietrich ryanjriehl RebeccaTodd My hope is that Ryan represents the future. Carry THAT around, Ryan!

        • RebeccaTodd ginidietrich Oh gosh, thank you.

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich ryanjriehl RebeccaTodd hrm, it may have been if they showed up in a clean suit and nice shoes, but yes, I am sure you were quit the surprise.

  • In my opinion, it is exactly that hideous competitiveness (a tacit message we either covertly or overtly pass down to our young females)  with which women judge each other that IS our downfall…our failure.  There is NO other reason that we shouldn’t be more respected, more empowered and in more leadership positions…period.  I have never understood it and as I get older, it bothers me more than ever.  Powerful and positive women like you ginidietrich , like Sheryl Sandberg, like Marissa Mayer like so so many amazing women ( and of course belllindsay !!) need to keep spreading the message. Don’t give up…I believe this skewed course that we’ve been on CAN change with the right message.  Thank you for another inspiring post GD. xoxo

    • SocialMediaDDS About a year ago, a friend called me a feminist and I got mad at her. It has such a terrible connotation. But I’ve let that sit with me for a year and I agree now. I’m proud to be a feminist and I want women to be able to make the choices that are best for them and their families without the judgement from others. It’s not about half of the CEO positions being filled with women. It’s about being able to make the choice and not have society judge us.

  • First off, I would sell out my entire gender for Oscar de la Renta.  No questions asked. 
    I will also confess that I went straight to that article, devoured it and awed over the fashion.  
    That being said, it made me think of the section in Lean In where Sheryl Sandberg says that if/when women are no longer an anomaly, this type of discussion will end.  I can understand the fascination with Marissa Mayers.  She is, unfortunately, a rarity and thus will be speculated about until that’s no longer true.  
    Lean In made me feel like every ambitious women owes it to their gender to let that ambition fly and create a culture where Marissa can be one of the very talented many.

    • HeatherTweedy I don’t think there is anything wrong with being fascinated with Marissa Mayer. We’re just fascinated by the wrong things. Did you know Yahoo beat Google in results for the first time in more than two years? But no one is talking about that. GIRL POWER!

  • wendyroan

    Thank you!

  • sherrilynne

    At the risk of repeating myself I hate, hate, hate, hate that gender in the work place is still an  issue for discussion in 2013…my mother said it would be different for me.  I thought it could be.  And it was a bit…I found I could ‘have it all’.  All the bills, all the work, all the responsibility. 
    Maybe this lean in movement will make the difference for our daughters and granddaughters.  I was shocked a couple a months ago when I arrived at a client event and the head of a government department, a woman with a very responsible job, announced ‘Here are the PR Girls’.  Me, a mere girl, who according to Bridget Jones, spends the day fannying about with a press release.  Who knew?! 
    Come on people, men and women alike..let’s all lean in!

    • sherrilynne’Here are the PR Girls’…!!!??? stab stab stab

      • sherrilynne

        belllindsay  Indeed.

        • sherrilynne belllindsay That happened to me when I was right out of college. As I was showing up for a client TV interview, the journalist said “Ah, you must be the PR person.”  It smacked of “oh, here’s a cute young thing in her high heels, she MUST be in PR.” Though, this was from a man. It definitely goes both ways.

        • sherrilynne

          lauraclick sherrilynne belllindsay Yes, but I was wrong side of 40 when this happened.  Certainly not a girl.  More of a hardened business professional, I’d say.

    • sherrilynne OMG, Sherrilynne! I might have stabbed her in the eye with my pen!

  • I’m on the phone with Vogue as we speak, ginidietrich – how are you for next Thursday?

    • belllindsay ginidietrich YES!!!

    • belllindsay ginidietrich They do mid-50-mile-cycle shoots? How cool would that be?

    • belllindsay Next Thursday works! LOL!

  • Linsday revs your engine. You rev my engine.  There is a whole bunch of feminist (yes, I said it, FEMINIST) energy running all over the social sphere this morning, thank you very much.
    I LOVE Vogue – they provide great articles ALWAYS. It is not un-feminist to love fashion.  It is also not inappropriate for a FASHION magazine to ask anyone it interviews about FASHION; that is different than asking the sitting Sec. of State about her outfit when she is having a press conference about foreign affairs.  
    Why is it that men executives are never lambasted  for doing interviews in GQ?  
    Oh, I’m so fed up. It is TIME for us to take over half of those power positions and make half of the money.  It is TIME.  And I can’t wait for your LeanIn post.

    • photo chris

      AmyMccTobin ohhhh, you used the “F” word! LOL Love you more every second!

    • AmyMccTobin I have to finish my Lean In post. I keep thinking of things to add to it. It won’t leave my brain. We were talking about it last night. I can’t find anything to criticize about it. It was empowering and inspiring.

      • ginidietrich AmyMccTobin I read it really early – before any of the ‘backlash’ entered my brain, and I LOVED it. I found myself nodding and nodding in agreement.
        Let’s start a circle, pronto.

  • susancellura

    I don’t get it. Never have. And what really burns my bottom is that I constantly interact with younger women (late 20s, and I’m not saying all of them are like this) who play into the double standard. By choice. 
    I have worked in a couple of male-dominated industries and it continues to amaze me how women don’t support each other. They are catty. They confirm the double standard. Then there are a few who shine through. Those are the women I would seek out and learn from. 
    Meanwhile, I would love some of that fashion to magically appear in my closet. I’d also like a live-in maid and cook. 🙂

    • susancellura “burns my bottom”- nice!

    • susancellura If the live-in maid also does laundry, I’m in for one, too!

  • I don’t even know what to say to this whole schlamozzle. Seriously. There are a gazillion successful women in the world. Many are hideous. Most are average (and struggling every day! LOL) and the other 1% won the genetic lottery. Who cares? Raise your hand if you would be on the cover of a major American magazine (or even interviewed by your local news at 6 crew) without your hair and makeup perfect. I wouldn’t, and I’m barely average. The other ladies who get fired up about these types of issues have to give their heads a shake. Was her cover pose provocative? Sure! Is she hot? Absolutely! Will a million more people know her and what she does today, who didn’t yesterday? You bet’cher sweet bippy they will! I say good for her.

    • susancellura

      belllindsay I agree with you and Gini. If I could have make-up and someone to dress me for an interview, I’d do it!! And, I don’t think it matters if you are a man or a woman, if you’re getting the “works” for an interview with Vogue or GQ. there is a piece of you that loves every moment because you know you look good.

      • susancellura Exactly.

        • belllindsay susancellura YES! Why is it suddenly criminal to enjoy looking good? I thought her cover pose, while provocative, is showing a classy and demure outfit. And again- good style isn’t about being “perfect” looking. Thanks for starting this discussion, Ell Bee!

        • RebeccaTodd belllindsay susancellura So here is an interesting story. During my college internship in DC (coincidentally at a place that I would soon go back to for my first job), I had a woman in the office I worked at call me over at a cocktail party one night, look me up and down and say the follow:
          “Honey you are really talented and smart and have a lot of potential to make it far in this field (politics), but let me give you one important piece of advice; you need to learn to be less pretty. You stand out way too much, get too much attention. Other women will try to thwart you at every step and men will never take you seriously. You need to dull yourself down a bit, dye your hair or something, I don’t know, but either you figure it out or you go be someone’s wife. You need to decide”
          And then she walked away and left me standing there completely dumbfounded (in my cute little Franco Sarto burgundy boot no less) 
          Obviously I was completely devastated and I called my mom bawling feeling like I had totally ruined my career by trying to look nice. My wise and amazing mother said to me
          “Small people hate sparkle because it makes them realize how dull they’ve let themselves become. Remember this moment always so you never ever become one of those dull people Laura”

    • photo chris

      belllindsay ” You bet’cher sweet bippy” Oh, if only I were cool enough to say that!

      • photo chris Ha! I’m only cool because I didn’t win the genetic lottery. 😉

    • belllindsay Schlamozzle?! SCHLAMOZZLE?!

      • ginidietrich I was waiting ALL DAY for this comment. 😉

  • susancellura

    Hmmm…. Pink’s “U + Ur Hand” just came on Pandora. Irony?

  • Neicolec

    It’s high time the men figured out that we aren’t doing business anymore on their terms. We’re doing business on our terms. And guess what, we can be beautiful, smart, sexy, and competent! Good for Marissa. We women need to have her back.

    • Neicolec I don’t believe men are as big a problem as the way women treat each other. That is my perspective as an outsider, but I hear the comments and see the looks.

      • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Neicolec Joshua, you may be HALF right.  I agree that women need to think hard about helping instead of hurting each other – don’t EVEN get me started about the Sandberg/LeanIn backlash BY women AGAINST Sheryl – by women who have not READ THE BOOK.
        However, I have worked ‘under’ plenty of men who made sure that there weren’t more women in their ranks at the top; who regularly participated in sexist behavior, and who didn’t see us as an equal because of our gender.   So, they don’t get off scott free either – we didn’t build this system, but we do have to tear it down together.

        • AmyMccTobin Neicolec 
          Those men exist. I have seen them and I am not saying they aren’t a problem either. It is just my perspective from what I have seen professionally and personally.
          This starts out at a young age too. When my kids tell me about their day I hear very different stories from my son and daughter.
          My daughter is 9 and she and her friends talk about who is saying mean things about them and then analyze it.
          My son is going to be 13 in December. There is no analysis or picking things apart. 
          It makes me wonder what we are doing at home with our daughters.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes AmyMccTobin Neicolec I see the same thing in my kids as well. They are 10 and the “mean girl syndrome” reared it’s ugly head right about 3rd grade. All of a sudden there was drama where there hadn’t been before. Two years later, the drama is still there for the girls and the boys are still blissfully playing, racing and farting. 🙂

        • TaraGeissinger AmyMccTobin Neicolec Yep, 3rd grade is really when I saw it start, all that drama. Oy.
          Playing, racing and farting- yep that sounds like the boys.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes TaraGeissinger AmyMccTobin Neicolec Well, the analytical part doesn’t bother me – it’s WHAT they’re analyzing.  I don’t want my daughter to care as much about being liked as I did.

      • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Neicolec I agree with Josh. There are certainly still pockets of the good ol’ boy’s club of yore in business, but the larger issue seems to be the way that women categorically treat one another in positions of power. 
        To me, it seems a little weird offering commentary on this situation as a man, FWIW.

    • Neicolec But I don’t know that we are doing business on our terms. The media, society, other women prevent us from really doing it on our own terms…and that’s the problem.

  • Little story:  About two years ago at Macy’s with my mother, I found a beautiful Calvin Klein dress that I simply fell IN LOVE with. The cost was more than I had ever spent on a single item of clothing in my life. As I hesitated, my mother looked at me and told me “You’ve worked hard. You deserve it..” That dress is STILL in my closet and I love it just as much.
    My point in that story is that buying that dress was a point of empowerment for me.  Why can’t we be fashionable and powerful? Why must it be one or the other? (FUN FACT: Mark Cuban actually holds press interviews while ON THE TREADMILL and no one bats an eye that he is “too rude” to stop jogging long enough to answer some questions. )
    On some levels, I have always wanted to BE Melissa. Powerful, intelligent, fashionable, and beautiful. If anything, seeing this photo shoot makes me want to “get there”. I want to BE her. She’s not just an “executive with good taste in clothes” she’s a role model. That’s more powerful than anything.

    • susancellura

      Maranda Two EXCELLENT questions:  ” Why can’t we be fashionable and powerful? Why must it be one or the other?”

      • susancellura The answer is it doesn’t have to be. Me and my CK dress will be over here plotting world domination while everyone else catches up 🙂

        • susancellura

          Maranda You go, girl!

        • Maranda I just fell in love with you for that comment!!!!

    • Maranda I’m a big, big believer in rewarding yourself for your hard work. When I got the job that moved me to Chicago, I bought myself a little 3 series BMW. I’ll never forget what a “friend” said to me….”Oh you bought the working man’s BMW.” It still hurts to think about that. I can still feel the punch in the stomach. I had worked really hard for that car and paid mostly cash for it. To have someone demean it in that way was really awful. 
      My point only is that we should be rewarded for our hard work. Sometimes it’s a great dress or a car (I’m dying for a new bike and our CFO keeps saying, “BUY IT!”) or a piece of jewelry or a handbag. Your mom is a smart woman. YOU DO DESERVE IT!

      • ginidietrich The 3 series BMW is my dream car! I’m officially jealous. 🙂  
        Exactly – I DO deserve it. My husband and I don’t have children yet and I can’t tell you how often I feel that my contribution is not “enough” in the eyes of other women. (That could be a whole another blog post for you, I suppose.) My husband and I work our TAILS off and if we want to buy a new TV, whatever, we’ve have earned it. Go buy your new bike. Post pictures.

        • Maranda DO NOT get me started on what you do not being enough. Everyone thinks they know what’s best for you. We don’t have kids yet, either, and every time someone asks me about it, I want to provide them an answer that makes them super uncomfortable. The truth of the matter is, it’s none of their business and it hasn’t been a conscious choice. So I always want to put people in their place for asking.

      • ginidietrich Maranda That’s what I drive now – a 335, and I love it, not because it’s a status symbol, but because it’s awesome AND reliable.  What an ass that friend was… I don’t care if you bought a VW and were proud of it, that was a crappy thing to say.

  • There’s probably a reason why most of my business relationships are with men – partly because there are more of them in the working world (especially as business owners and executives) and partly because there is far less drama. Before working for myself, I always worked for women. I always wondered what it would be like to work for a man because some of these issues wouldn’t have been part of the conversation. 
    It pains me what women do to each other in the business world. We want equality, yet women are the ones that are often treating each other the worst. Why can’t we cheer for the women who choose to lead in the business world as well as those who make other choices?
    I could go on and on. But, I’ll just say that I love the vibrant, strong, sophisticated and smart women here. Let’s hope that we can all do our part to help change the conversation.

    • lauraclickI’m surprised to hear that competitiveness, drama and pettiness are a big issue in networking among women. From my perspective — and I recognize that I am, you know, a dude — it always seemed to me that in many ways women have a leg up in networking, because they are more willing to strike up conversations, make connections, develop relationships and help each other out, while men are more likely to see each other as competitors. But that’s from the outside looking in, of course.

      • susancellura

        RobBiesenbach lauraclick Oh no. It’s like junior high school at times…multiplied by 10, and add in soap operas like “Dallas” and “Dynasty”.

        • susancellura RobBiesenbach Rob – I think it can be that way a lot of times. I definitely have good relationships with a number of women. But oftentimes, that competitiveness in women turns into cattiness really fast. It’s a shame, but it’s true.

        • lauraclick susancellura RobBiesenbach I once served on a future leaders board for an organization that empowers women. I lasted only three months because the cattiness and pettiness was SO BAD. Instead of empowering women, they sat around talking about how to take them down. Today I would stick around and make some changes. Back then, I was starting my business and didn’t have the patience.

        • ginidietrich lauraclick susancellura RobBiesenbach Wow, Gini — talk about irony! And thanks, all of you, for the perspective.

        • ginidietrich lauraclick susancellura RobBiesenbach I guess I have been fortunate in my career. I have had the opposite experience, with most of my female co-workers and bosses supporting and mentoring me. Nearly every woman I’ve worked with closely has remained a friend. I’ve mostly worked in non-profit and higher education…maybe the industry makes a difference. We were always united under a cause.

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich lauraclick susancellura RobBiesenbach oh- that is so sad!

        • photo chris

          Word Ninja ginidietrich lauraclick susancellura RobBiesenbach  Education IS a remarkably friendly and supportive field!

      • RobBiesenbach lauraclick Interesting- the second time today that such a perspective has been offered by a gentleman. The sad truth is it just isn’t so. I was recently told by a female colleague that she was “pleased to see me in pants” as I usually wear skirts. Honestly. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few strong female role models, but so often it becomes a mothering dynamic in which one tells the other how to behave condescendingly, or they rip each other down behind their backs. It really isn’t always this way, but the sad reality is it occurs.

        • RebeccaTodd RobBiesenbach lauraclick Your skirts *are* a bit much, Rebecca. 😉

        • belllindsay RebeccaTodd RobBiesenbach lauraclick I think it’s more the ones that are a bit not-much that cause the concern.

      • RobBiesenbach lauraclick Well, for my part, I’ve mostly known amazing women in business, including Gini. Not to deny anyone else’s personal experience, but I think women make excellent leaders and mentors. There are some women I don’t relate well to in a work environment, but I’m never going to love everybody, that’s why they call it “work” not “social time with the people you personally choose based on how much you like them.” I dunno, maybe I’m just not in the right industry to run into this sabotaging behavior, but I’ve had a lot of great female mentors, personally.

        • jelenawoehr RobBiesenbach I agree with you. I know plenty of great women. In fact, I think I know more now thanks to social media. I just had coffee today with a smart, talented fellow marketer in town and I enjoyed every minute – we offered to support each other and want to find ways to collaborate even though our services overlap somewhat. I think that stuff is very good. I have a lot of that happening too. That’s not to say the other stuff doesn’t exist, but maybe we just need to spend more time talking about the positive stuff instead of the negative.

      • RobBiesenbach lauraclick Hahahah! Oh my Rob, that makes me laugh so hard. Some women are wicked and evil and cut throat, in fact a majority of them. I will always prefer to work with men at first glance. Of course there are many women exceptions to that rule (funny enough many hang out around these parts) but it is certainly not the norm. ‘Business as usual’ is not business as usual, there is so much that gets pulled into the equation when dealing with women, it is exhausting and scary.
        And much of these ‘networking’ groups are full of superficial, I’ll smile to your face and oh and ah about your dress but as soon as you turn around I’ll discuss how you should never have had the success you have and you got it from some sort of non-work, non-skill based means.

        • LauraPetrolino lauraclick I feel so naive! Makes we want to get the popcorn and pull up a chair. But not in a Seinfeldian, “Oooh, catfight!” way, I promise.

    • lauraclick With all due respect, that drama argument doesn’t hold water. When men do it, it’s called “workplace politics” or “power struggles.”  I supervised many, many men – they are no less ‘catty’ or ‘gossipy’ than women.

      • AmyMccTobin You know, that’s a good point. Perhaps part of the problem is that all of this is overblown. It happens both ways. It’s just categorized differently. Though, I think some of it is a difference in behavior and how it’s done. I think I’ve just worked in too many all-female offices so I don’t have a ton to compare it with!

        • lauraclick AmyMccTobin I think that wherever people gather, there are politics and ‘cattiness,’ and how loud that gets depends upon the leadership.   I worked in the VERY male carpet industry for years, and there is just as much bs there as there is at the PTO meetings I’ve been to.
          ANOTHER reason to work virtually – cuts down on the internal office crap.

        • AmyMccTobin lauraclick I’ve worked both with a majority of women and with a majority of men and while I agree that men have their own games and slaughter, it is different in nature. Women start getting personal in their attacks and it stops being about business. 
          Plus, I’ve found across the board I’m given much more respect and opportunities when working with men than when working with women. The parts of me that are respected by men are often disliked by women.
          Again, and I can’t emphasis this enough, I have had some absolutely AMAZING women colleagues and supervisors, and I’ll say that when you have a good female business team or posse it is incredibly empowering and those have been the situations that I think I improved the most as a professional and created some of my best work. Which just makes the whole unfortunate dynamic that often is the default all the more frustrating. 
          Hence I love having discussions like this and @ginidietrich continued call to arms to us to work together and make each other stronger.

        • LauraPetrolino AmyMccTobin Couldn’t agree more, Laura. I think you and I are tracking on the same wavelength…but, perhaps you articulated it far more clearly than I did!

    • lauraclick I think you’ve seen my pink laptop cover and keyboard. Every time someone asks me about it, I respond with, “Would you ever get my laptop confused with yours?” It’s always men and they always laugh nervously. No, of course they would never get my laptop confused with their own. But, like you, I spend the majority of my time with men and lots of them have MacBook Airs. I want mine to stand apart!

  • Now I havent done the research (yet). But my immediate thought was this. I am SURE there has to be male executives who were featured in GQ in a hot tailored suit with open collar, etc.  You cannot tell me there hasnt been a male executive featured in a magazine looking dapper in a fitted suit. Dont’ buy it!
    She has more than earned that dress & feature!

    • sydcon_mktg Yes, there have been. Branson and Cuban have been for sure. I would venture guess they’re not alone.

      • ginidietrich sydcon_mktg I have no doubt. Funny you hear “Power Suits” all the time in regards to men. Why cant women have power wardrobes, whether that means power heels, a power suit or in Melissa’s case a Power dress & heels?  So stupid, people need to get over it!

  • SpinSucks

    enerdy HI!!! How are you? How’d the move go?!

    • enerdy

      SpinSucks hi darling! The move went well! But it’s been more like uhh, Rain-lanta :/ otherwise settling in nicely. How r u?! Miss ur face!

  • I have heard many people (mostly women, but some men) say that women should hold at least 50 percent of the CEO jobs out there because it is unfair that women don’t.
    That is not an argument that holds water for me. The best and most qualified people should hold those position regardless of gender.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I agree with you. It shouldn’t be about gender. And, if men want to work inside the home so their wives can go hold powerful positions, so be it. It’s about equality, not about giving someone a job to fill a ratio.

      • ginidietrich Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Exactly.

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Overall that’s great! But people are people and are subject to their own biases. There are still too many people who have the power to grant those positions who have the bias of what a woman/African american/Mexican etc. etc. can or can’t do and judge the quality of work based upon their visual inferences. 
          This is why some  orchestra’s  hold blind auditions. There is (what looks to be) a really interesting book on this subject; now, if only I could remember the name…argh! Red jacket, on the table outside of the Newberry Library bookstore….I wish the details of my visual brain would just kick in this morning… and hat I had evernote when I saw the thing! It will come to me!

        • photo chris ginidietrich
          I hear what you are saying and I don’t disagree. People judge others on appearance all the time and that is especially disappointing.
          I like blind auditions because it makes you focus on skills and not appearance.

        • photo chris ginidietrich Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Obviously the issue isn’t filling a quota of 50%. But women started entering the workforce in a serious way back in the late 60s/early 70s, emerging with degrees from newly co-ed universities. So what’s it been now? Two generations? Going on three? If the number of women in CEO positions at major companies doesn’t start approaching 50% pretty soon, it’s time to ask some questions about what’s going on.

        • RobBiesenbach photo chris ginidietrichI agree that we should see the numbers increase but I don’t know that we can use 50% as a benchmark.
          My focus is always upon the best person for the job and not gender/race/religion.
          I like to think that I don’t prejudge based on those things, but maybe I do.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes RobBiesenbach photo chris ginidietrich What we CAN say is that the percentage we have now is dismal, and indicative of something very wrong.

        • RobBiesenbach There are only 20 female CEOs in the Fortune 500 companies. Twenty.

        • ginidietrich Holy crap! I never would have guessed it was that low. That is insane.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes A great saying I learned in my teaching days was something like “equality doesn’t mean sameness”.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I have never heard a woman say that women should be arbitrarily slotted into 50% of CEO jobs. I HAVE heard women say, accurately, that women have statistically made more effective leaders in nearly every meaningful, fact-based metric, from hedge fund managers’ performance to CEOs’ effect on stock price to employee satisfaction, and that, therefore, it would behoove companies to actively recruit and develop female leaders for top jobs. I’m not sure what women you’re talking to, but I’ve certainly never met them, and I’m pretty active in a lot of progressive groups.

      • jelenawoehr So you are saying that because you have never heard a woman say it that it couldn’t haven’t happened? 
        And then you follow up your comment with an unsubstantiated claim that we are supposed to take at face value because of  why?
        C’mon, that is like saying you have heard about a place called China but since you have never been it must not exist.
        Well, I am active in a lot of travel clubs and I can tell you it does.

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes I simply said I haven’t heard any such thing, including within explicitly feminist and progressive groups. You shared your (alleged) experience. Am I somehow less welcome to share mine because it’s a positive rather than negative reflection on women’s attitudes toward leadership?

        • jelenawoehr It is all about the presentation and perhaps you might need to work on yours. You suggested that because you have never heard such a thing it didn’t happen.
          Your second remark isn’t any better than the first. If you don’t believe my statement come out and say it, the use of alleged in  parentheses is offensive.
          Furthermore telling people to look up statistics you use in an argument is obnoxious. It is not my job to present your “alleged” truth for you.
          But maybe it is indicative of the self entitled millennial attitude which so many of your generation seem to have. The poor me I graduated during a bad economy attitude.
          Well lots of us did that and lots of spent time working hard to overcome challenges and during the decades of experience we have that you do not we learned a few things that can only be gathered by life experience.
          Hey, that snooty talk is kind of fun, maybe I should use it more often. Nah, I want people to take me seriously. 😉

        • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes You asked an entire gender to defend ourselves for a position I can’t recall you providing any proof any woman ever actually took, so I’m not sure what your problem is with my pointing out that your initial comment was a red herring. But, you have every right not to like my response, and I’ll decline to respond to your personal remarks except to say that I’m personally very happy with my career. Have a nice day.

        • jelenawoehr It always helps to read before you respond. I shared something I have heard both men and women say and you tried to take me to task for it.
          If you are going to call someone on the carpet you should be prepared for a response.
          Enjoy your day. 🙂

  • OK, if I could keep those adorable shoes, I MIGHT pose upside down on uncomfortable modern lawn furniture. I get that this is Vogue, but I would feel ridiculous being posed like a high fashion model. If this photo is representative of who she is, good for Mayer! Show me in my environment, living out who I am in real life. Guess that means I’d be better off on the cover of Mother Earth News. 🙂

    • Word Ninja I think there is going to be a rush on Michael Kors dresses and YSL shoes after this!

  • AbbieF

    I agree, there is a double-standard.  But please explain to me why it was necessary to have her sprawled across a lawn chair?  I doubt Branson or Cuban have been photographed that way.  Yes, this is a fashion magazine so I would expect the story to cover what powerful women wear to work.  And I get that she didn’t want her standard corporate headshot.  But there were plenty of other ways to demonstrate that smart is sexy (thank you Ashton Kutcher) than this type of photo.
    Connie Britton (American Horror Story, Nashville, Friday Night Lights) was the cover story in a recent issue of More Magazine with the caption “Smartest Woman in Hollywood.”  I’m a big fan and was eager to read the story.  And sure enough, the first three paragraphs are about her hair and showed her pictured in what apparently is the obligatory sprawling-over-furniture photo.
    Don’t get me wrong.  These women (and others) are beautiful AND successful. And they should be able to be both without it being a big deal.

    • AbbieF Yes…what is it about the “sprawling-over-furniture” photo? I don’t get it. Right at this moment, I’m in the “slumped-on-couch-with-laptop” pose. Wish there was a photographer handy.

      • Word Ninja AbbieF And I’m in the “still at the desk having consumed leftover Chinese” wearing a “circa 2000 safety pinned together skirt from Ross Dress For Less and a shirt a friend gave me when hubs was out of work and the budget was tight.” Guess I may not have made the Vogue cut. All kidding aside, I just ordered Lean In on audio and hope that helps me contribute more to the discussion. I am relatively well informed on Mayer – I suspect like many CEOs male and female she has great strengths and her share of weaknesses. From what I read of the “end of the work from home” issue, the way in which it was communicated was demoralizing and poorly handled but unpopular decisions come with their own sets of challenges. // I’ll be back to the topic after Lean In. Great discussion everyone.

        • biggreenpen Word Ninja AbbieF I’m a bit out of the discussion loop myself re: Lean In. Confession: spent my sick day today reading the YA fantasy The Iron Ring by Lloyd Alexander instead.

        • Word Ninja biggreenpen AbbieF that was probably more of an escape than LI will be — over the past few posts that dealt with work life balance there have been references to LII and I’m pretty sure we took an oath complete with blood sample and pinky swears not to draw conclusions until we have actually read it. That’s what I was referring to. 🙂

        • biggreenpen That made me laugh out loud!

      • Word Ninja AbbieF There is…;  )

        • Paul M Bowers Word Ninja AbbieF Ack! Let me put on some lip gloss.

    • AbbieF You don’t lounge around on deck furniture most of the day?  I assumed that was the obvious path to power!  🙂  
      I completely agree that the posing was odd.  So often men are shown in positions of power.  At their desks, at the helm of a ship (I’ve seen it), or standing in front of the window having meaningful thoughts. If Marissa had been deep in thought, though, I am sure someone would have written 500 words about what new changes she was going to make! 
      At least they didn’t do the “harried mother” staging!

      • HeatherTweedy AbbieF Agree on the “harried mother” point, although I would identify more with that!

    • AbbieF The photo doesn’t bother me. It’s Vogue. It’s their MO. Plus I REALLY love her dress. A lot. But I also see what you’re saying…I guess I was more inflamed about the backlash than about the article/photos.

  • nirenel

    ginidietrich Great post, Gini!

    • ginidietrich

      nirenel Thank you!

  • And then of course if you don’t use the sex appeal to your advantage and try to be gender neutral and just judged on abilities alone, you are either a bitch or a dyke. 
    Personally, I don’t know if there will ever be true equality, regardless of how much it is talked about; gender, race or religion. It might get better in some areas, me methinks it will always be there. 
    One time I was going to do an interview and they wanted me to shave my legs, but I had to draw the line somewhere.

    • bdorman264 You could totally shave your legs. Cyclists do it all the time. Ask jasonkonopinski

      • ginidietrich bdorman264 jasonkonopinski It’s true. Mine are freshly shaven.

    • bdorman264 I know a few men who shave their legs! cc jasonkonopinski

  • Christina615

    ginidietrich Great post and so true!

    • ginidietrich

      Christina615 Thank you!

  • littlegiantprod

    ginidietrich AMEN!

    • ginidietrich

      littlegiantprod I got a little fired up this morning.

      • littlegiantprod

        ginidietrich I felt it! Go go go:)

  • But I thought all women were caddy and they only cared about their looks. There are serious professional women out there too? Next thing you know you’ll tell me that someday we’ll have a black president.

    • jonmikelbailey All women are caddy? No, I prefer to do the golfing 😉

    • jonmikelbailey WHAT?! A black president??? As if.

  • RoeEvolution

    ginidietrich great post! Thanks for sharing!

    • ginidietrich

      RoeEvolution Thanks for saying so!

  • rachelakay

    ginidietrich Shared that post and agree. If I were Marissa Mayer I’d just say “haters gonna hate.”

    • @rachelakay I’m very sensitive to this kind of garbage. If I were her, I would have had at least one good cry this week.

    • ginidietrich

      rachelakay It’s so frustrating…why can’t we all just get along?

  • Great post! I loved the entire article AND the photo, personally. It can be a heck of a lot of fun to play dress-up, especially when there’s a good photographer on hand. I’ve been blessed with some photog friends who’ve invited me to play model from time to time, and it’s a blast! There’s nothing about being a smart, powerful woman leader that means you shouldn’t be able to have fun and feel great. I’m excited, personally, to see that we may finally have turned the corner enough that women in leadership roles don’t feel like they have to masculinize themselves to fit in. (Not dissing women leaders who PREFER more masculine clothing and mannerisms, but women shouldn’t NEED masculine habits to garner respect, any more than men in traditionally female jobs are expected to don heels and makeup to fit in.)

    • jelenawoehr I used to be really careful about what I wear when I speak to groups of largely men. Then I decided, I work really hard at my cycling and I’m going to show off my calves in a pair of kick butt heels as often as I can. Does that make me less powerful or not able to do my job? I think not.

  • Oh, boy.
    Gini, did I teach you nothing about photography?

    I have an awful lot to say about this column, but am so short of time, I can’t. Maybe Gini will let me guest blog….?

    Let me make on teeny tiny point- it’s not the image or it’s content that’s the issue here. It’s the NATURE of the image.

    The subject looks sexy, and comparisons to male executives can be made all day- hey! they’re sexy too!

    But the nature of this image is indeed sexy, but *is anything but powerful*. In fact, the nature of the image is what I call CFMQ, which used to be applied to shoes, but roughly translates to “please engage in sexual activity with me post-haste”.

    CFMQ has a very different meaning when applied to men or applied to women. Look at her pose- it’s very passive. Her hair spread out as if thrown, her hips higher than her head, *and her legs in the air*. Folks, this does not suggest a powerful, assertive quality. Attractive, alluring, sure, and absolutely sexy. And I like it!
    But not in the same way a sexy shot of Richard Branson is. Imagine a male in that same pose- it’s just not the same, is it? And you wouldn’t think of him as powerful would you?

    I could go on, but …. not enough time.

    • Paul M Bowers Dear Paul: I think I’m in love with you.

      • Yeah.
        Chix dig me.

        • Paul M Bowers I’ll introduce her to my husband. 😉

        • belllindsay Paul M Bowers Sheesh…liberals…

        • Paul M Bowers Pinko Commies. 😉

        • belllindsay Paul M Bowers damn Canadians think they live in Ecuador or something.

      • belllindsay Paul M Bowers If I call you a hussy in this thread, would that be un-feministic?

    • Paul M Bowers I agree. As a woman, this image does not say “powerful” CEO to me.

      • Word Ninja Paul M Bowers the feathery dress looks horrible. Seems like she dreams of being Miley Cyrus instead of CEO Power Shark which she can do and still look glamorous sexy.

    • jenzings

      Paul M Bowers I agree. It’s not that there’s a picture of her looking good, wearing designer clothing…it’s this–shot. She looks lovely, sure, but…

      Did she agree to do whatever they asked as far as posing? Because I just can’t fathom agreeing to this particular shot. “You want me to what? Um, no. How about I sit at a desk?”

      • jenzings Paul M Bowers Disagree w/ you both on this. Strong vs. passive, those are highly subjective and mean something different to different folks (I’m sure someone highly academic could argue both sides with this particular photo set). 
        The point is: it doesn’t matter if she looks “strong enough” for anyone. We are not the arbiters of her physical value, she is. If she’s kicking ass in the C-suite and gets to feel and look good (by her own measure) than kudos to her.

        • JoeCardillo jenzings Paul M Bowers I think she went A-Rod maybe bdorman264 can give us some input he is a huge Yankee fan.

        • Howie Goldfarb JoeCardillo jenzings Paul M Bowers bdorman264 Well there’s always the ‘ol ……”I’m not here to talk about the past” thing

        • JoeCardillo jenzings Paul M Bowers

          Important- she’s free to do and appear however it suits her. As has been noted many times, this individual is getting a LOT of press out of this, and if that’s her goal, I say go for it.
          I’m also amoral on the idea of how one wishes to appear to the public. If she wants to be naked, that’s just fine with me. I’m a guy, we like nudity. It’s one of the ways we choose what to watch in the evenings.
          As a society we don’t get to have it both ways. Women cannot bemoan the stereotyping of females and hate the power/income differential we still have, but on the other hand support and encourage the tools and methods that perpetuate the stereotype. We just don’t get it both ways.
          The Supreme uses the Miller three-pronged test to define pornography, and includes the words “appeals to the prurient interest”. 
           We’ve all taken to define prurient interest as the most damaging to our society, and will go as far as to censor nudity and brown bag the covers of magazines that feature nudity.
          I believe images like we’re discussing are far more damaging to the interest of women (and thereby our society) than prurient interest publications because I believe them to be dishonest in intent.
          Images like these are designed to place the subject as a *supplicant*, but dress her up in haute couture to make it “fashion” and it’s all ok?

          I don’t think so. I believe the “fashion” world is more pornographic than Vogue, Elle or More. (More- now THERE’S a quality mag. Not only casting women as supplicants, but,supplicant consumers as well)
          I think prurient interest publications are at least honest. They are there to arouse the “reader” (I just look at the pictures anyway) and make no bones about it. Oops ;  )
          About power- anyone who’s spent any time in couples therapy with a shrink of any value knows:
          1.Couples never really argue about sex.
          2. Couples never really argue about money.
          Couples argue about power, and money/sex are the totems with which we smack each other instead. Power is the thing, folks. One need look no further than these posts to understand how power is important- look through our discussion, especially about the description of men. The unbuttoned shirt, etc. Power appeals to us, and my job as a photographer is to present subjects as powerful and credible. It’s our lizard brains. Women are wired to be attracted to powerful men (the unbuttoned shirt!) because in the lizard brain, women need to procreate with men that can provide both food and good genetic material.
          Men are less wired for powerful woman, and more wired for good breeding stock. We like boobs that can nurture our lizard offspring (hmm. Reptiles don’t nurse. Maybe primordial brain, right?) and hips that can bear them. And we look for opportunities to mate. Not making this stuff up, folks, study your anthropology.
          Now- presumably we’ve evolved as a species, and are now free to have men stay home to nurture our children, and women to slay beasts for our food. But it’s not that easy. I can tell you from personal experience there’s no free lunch. I certainly miss the powerful position of being an autonomous, powerful entrepreneur, and my wife would love to spend more time as mom. No matter how terrific it actualy works for our family, we cannot deny those feelings. And trust me- once one has left the workforce, it’s difficult to return, and impossible to return at or above the position one left behind. Man or woman, it’s truth.
          But. I spent many years photographing business executives for annual reports. These are critical images- investors look at the images trying to decide if the company and executives are trustworthy enough to invest their hard-earned money. Without winning the confidence of investors (and therby the capital) the company will die.

          I’d NEVER cast an executive in a supplicant role. The qualities we all admire and respect (first step to power) about executives include confidence, power, expertise, success, intelligence, command and control, reliability, trustworthy, dependable, honest. Now let’s circle back to the image at hand, and I ask you: 

          What about that image says anything about those characteristics? What part of the image content reinforces our belief that the subject has any of those important traits?  Nothing.

          The image speaks volumes about the stylist who dressed her, did her makeup, bought the chaise, polished the shoes and chose the bra that made her breasts “just so”. Possibly more important is the post-production artist who probably slimmed her, made her skin flawless, trimmed her hair, re-waxed her brow and upper lip, balanced the color so her skin tone is a rosy glow of health and wealth, intensified the color of her eyes, and smoothed her lips. None of these traits are what we value in a human- they are all superficial. So, our supplicant subject places a high value on the superficial- that we now know.
          Do you admire that? I don’t. Will she get more money in her life because of this? Yeah, probably, and “more power to her” for that.
          This image reinforces the stereotype many women bemoan- that of a superficial supplicant consumer, on her back, waiting for a man to come along.
          I make a point to show our son the truth behind images like these- how they degrade (yeah, that’s a pretty nasty term. Maybe “don’t honor” is better) women in general and he’d be better off looking at Playboy.

        • JoeCardillo jenzings Paul M Bowers Who gives a crap if she wants to look like a rock star??? How does that matter to who she is as a CEO?

        • AmyMccTobin JoeCardillo jenzings Paul M Bowers Not a whit. But, if we are going to bemoan stereotypes and double standards, we cannot say the photo is OK, as it creates the stereotypes and double standards we bemoan.

        • Paul M Bowers AmyMccTobin JoeCardillo jenzings Clearly, this conversation belongs on on another forum….
          I doubt we’ll agree on this one Paul, so I’ll let go of it. But I do not think it’s as simple as you say, and I don’t see any clear, overwhelming research or references to support some of the declaratives / judgments you are making….as for what’s degrading vs. what’s not, well I may be out of the mainstream but I don’t really think that as a man that’s something I get to decide for a woman, in power or not in power, “beautiful” or “not beautiful.”

        • Paul M Bowers JoeCardillo jenzings I think Paul just wrote a blog post.

    • Paul M Bowers Very, very interesting take, Paul. The pose actually doesn’t bother me. It’s in a fashion magazine. The photo is very akin to what they do. The article is about her fashion choices. So it didn’t strike me as being inappropriate. But I do see your point.

    • briancrouch

      Paul M Bowers When I first saw this image on a friend’s feed this morning, I recalled a scene in the show “Designing Women,” in which Julia during a photo shoot for Women of Atlanta, cuts a sexist photographer down to size. I also can’t picture Eric Schmidt, Steve Ballmer, or Larry Eliason (nor would I want to) in an identical pose. 
      Here’s the video of her rant on the double standard:

      • briancrouch Paul M Bowers difference is Eric Schmidt, Steve Ballmer, and Larry Ellison aren’t the best looking guys. Brain studs not physical studs. In fact 90% of CEOs are not the best physical specimens and that includes both sexes.

        BUT I bet ginidietrich will agree that the times the men are attractive see Richard Branson…he is given the Glamour treatment as well. I mean he was water skiing with a naked model as his outfit. Steve Ballmer might be able to pay a model to do that (and maybe does) but ick who wants to see that?
        So is this a commentary on being a CEO or a commentary on who has good genes or takes care of themselves?

        • rustyspeidel

          Howie Goldfarb briancrouch Paul M Bowers ginidietrich One diff is that I think men don’t have a problem with being treated as sex symbols. Discuss.

        • photo chris

          rustyspeidel Howie Goldfarb briancrouch Paul M Bowers ginidietrich ROFLMAO!

  • Gini – you know me well enough to know that I get fired up about this stuff too. 
    Honestly, I could care less who poses in what magazine. It’s the quality of the ideas and thought that the person cultivates that I care about. Is that always what advances someone? No, not it is not. But it should be, and it’s what we should focus on. It’s also how Marissa Mayer got to where she is at, and picking apart her “what how did lil ‘ol me get here” thing isn’t helpful or necessary. Of course she’s surprised she got from zero to 98 (who wouldn’t be), but there was a lot of hard work in the middle.

    • JoeCardillo I don’t know you! 🙂 I read an article the other day about Mayer taking only two weeks of maternity leave and how everyone was up in arms about it. The author said something to the effect of, “What do you care how long she takes? This isn’t something she’s requiring of everyone who works at Yahoo. It’s what works for her.” We have a client on maternity leave right now and she’s all over the business social networks. Should we vilify her for working during her leave?

      • ginidietrich JoeCardillo Yep. I get riled up about that stuff.  Hey, you get to make decisions for yourself, you don’t have to represent everyone.

        • ginidietrich JoeCardillo & I guess now you know, this gender stuff I get all fired up on… = P

        • JoeCardillo So many reasons to love you!

      • ginidietrich JoeCardillo I only took 6 weeks – but really, I worked right through it at home.  I worked when I was in the hospital for a week before Addie was born as I lay there hooked up to make sure she was ok.  Laptop and cell phone.
        I worked because I love my work, it fulfills me – it makes me feel good about myself. Would I have been a better person if I’d turned on Maury Povich while breastfeeding?  I see Maternity Leave much like I see Mourning – it is very personal and no one’s business but the person deciding how to handle it.

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich JoeCardillo Oh, I’m guilty of hating her for that as well. In my case, it was because I WANTED her to set the example that as a CEO she COULD play both roles that way I SAW fit. *shaking my head* I am not immune to the judging either. And, I want powerful hip places to be demonstrating MORE flex time to create better work/life balance for employees, not less. She got a lot of press for those two things, intended or not, and I didn’t like the “message.”

        • photo chris

          ginidietrich JoeCardillo  …for the record, or at least this conversation, I ALSO think that MALE ceo’s should be seen taking some time off when a new baby arrives. To take care of baby, or their wife, or the house, or whatever needs doing. 
          It is a BABY. I just don’t think you get to bounce back into “regular life” immediately after. (so said the woman who’s first infant had colic for, um, ever, and had two surgeries in the first 6 months of having her)

  • Sjeanne06

    I’ve been staring at this empty comment box for at least 15 minutes (don’t tell my boss) trying to figure out exactly what I want to say.  I still am not sure, but I do know this: there is absolutely a fundamental difference in how women and men are treated in the workplace (and in society in general).  
    An example that affected me recently? I wore a dress to work for a client meeting and had a manager make a comment to me along the lines of, “well, we want to impress the client, but not because we have hot employees.” Yea, so there’s that.
    I love Secretary Hilary Clinton’s response when asked by reporters about what designers she wears… “Would you be asking me that if I were a man?” Of COURSE they wouldn’t be.
    I’ve written blogs about this subject; about how women are expected to be pretty but not too pretty, smart but not intimidatingly so, well “groomed” but not high maintenance, successful but not MORE successful than the “man” in the relationship, etc. etc. 
    Unfortunately, I’m not sure these perceptions will change in my lifetime, or even my daughter’s.  Do we have to accept them? No.  I refuse to allow someone who is narrow-minded to affect me to the point of being upset. (Although, trust me, there are times when they do win, and I, too, get fired up). 
    Rise above… go to the spa, buy clothes you feel comfortable in (no matter what brand they are), splurge on expensive heels and rock that sh*t (excuse my language) to work, while also being an innovative, creative, hard-working team member.  
    As the wise Eleanor Roosevelt said, “No one can make you feel inferior without your consent.” I choose not to give that approval. ginidietrich

    • Sjeanne06 There is almost nothing I love more than an expensive pair of heels and a skirt. I have a pair of red-soled shoes I got for my birthday a couple of years ago. Every time I wear them, I either hear snickers about my glamorous shoes or right out jealous comments. And trust me, it’s not the men who make the comments.

      • Sjeanne06

        ginidietrich Sjeanne06 I hear you, girl! I LOVE a new all leather patent heel or an awesome new handbag… they’re a couple indulgences that I allow myself.
        Your comment also brings up an entirely different issue, Gini! This embedded competitive nature and jealousy among women… why do we treat each other so poorly?  As if there’s not enough drama that we need to deal with on a daily basis to just feel like we’re being good enough mothers, employees, bosses, members of society, etc. We somehow feel the need to just be out right mean to each other!
        It’s something I have made an active effort to work on.  I know I’ve been guilty of it.  We’re almost expected to be catty and judge each other on appearances, status, careers, relationships (and the list goes on)… it’s ridiculous.
        Let’s just all make a pact that we’ll be supportive and encouraging to each other, female OR male.  I’m good with that.  Kumbaya! 
        PS: Let them snicker; you’re absolutely right, it is almost always based in insecurity and jealousy. Again, NOT your problem. (Of course, advice is easy to give and hard to follow… just keep kicking butt, lady!)

        • Sjeanne06 I’ve been guilty of it, too. But, like you, I’m making an active effort to stop doing it. I like the idea of making a pact to be good to one another. Let’s do it!

        • ginidietrich Sjeanne06 If Oprah really was on the side of women she should fund a male version of sex in the city and she should have reporters for her O magazine ask men what hair products and shoes they wear.
          Hey John Kerry is that Armani or is that custom made in hong kong? Rockports or Kenneth Cole shoes you sexy Hombre?

  • I just got here. Saw 122 comments figured either you riled up jasonkonopinski about trout fishing is cruel or something gender based.
    I never thought about this before. The C Suite is looked at as jobs you give up your life for money because you work so much. I personally think the C Suite should have a glamour side to it. It is there we see it. The cover shoots for men CEOs all the time. In $10,000 suits in a penthouse office. They get interviewed and often are hauled before congress. They often have or have access to private jets and first class air fair. All I can say is go Marissa! oh and you ginidietrich  I will buy a case of that issue and put your spread up in my future mancave…..oh wait like the wife would let me have that over a makeup room for her…I lost.

    • Howie Goldfarb LOL!! Your poor man cave lost to a makeup room. So sad.

      • ginidietrich don’t girls growing up should be looking at being CEO just as glamorous as being a model or movie star?

        • Howie Goldfarb ginidietrich YES! Exactly, it shouldn’t have to be an either or….Either I’m a sexy minx ding bat or I’m an frumpy, fuggly intelligent successful CEO.

  • As a dad of two teenage daughters, I get fired up, concerned, ticked off about this… but I think that, as women graduate from college in ever larger numbers than men (even though still getting paid less as they enter the workforce), and as men in our culture continue to revel in extended adolescence… well, sooner or later, all of my testosterone-laden brethren will wake up from seeing/acting out “Hangover 12” and discover that all the Marissa Mayer’s in the C-Suites across America have taken over all the good jobs… while looking great doing it.

    • creativeoncall I don’t know…I’d see Hangover 12.

  • ginidietrich

    creativeoncall Thank you, sir!

  • ginidietrich

    jeffespo xoxo

    • jeffespo

      ginidietrich I got you hommie 🙂 How you be? We need to catch up soon…

      • ginidietrich

        jeffespo How’d the Ravens look last night?

        • belllindsay

          ginidietrich jeffespo I hear the Cardinals are looking good.

        • ginidietrich

          belllindsay Oh dear. jeffespo

  • ginidietrich

    MollyBorchers Thanks, Molly!

  • ginidietrich

    LizReusswig xoxo

    • LizReusswig

      ginidietrich 🙂 back at ya!

  • ginidietrich

    shedoesdesign Thanks Kate!

    • shedoesdesign

      ginidietrich thx for the post! Read both first thing this morning, and had a great conv. piece for the table full of (male) devs. at lunch!

      • ginidietrich

        shedoesdesign I would have paid to be a fly on the wall during that discussion!

        • shedoesdesign

          ginidietrich it was interesting! Mostly gave props for her code skill+google history, plus talked obv. “controversy” re: new Y! policies

        • ginidietrich

          shedoesdesign See…I love that. Why can’t women be more like that?

  • ginidietrich

    SocialMediaDDS Love you!

  • ginidietrich

    debdobson Thanks sweets!

    • debdobson

      ginidietrich You are most welcome my dear friend!

  • mmcottrell

    ginidietrich Totally agree. Did anyone think Vogue was going to do an ugly, serious photo shoot? No fan of Mayer, but that pic was fine.

    • ginidietrich

      mmcottrell Amen.

  • Great article! As a mother of a teenage daughter we have had this discussion a lot.

  • Others have already expressed my same thoughts throughout the comments, so I’ll just say a simple I totally agree, with you and thank you. 🙂

  • All too frequently, women are women’s worst enemies when it comes to career development. I certainly wouldn’t pose in underwear and expect to be taken seriously as a business woman, but there’s certainly nothing wrong with looking nice and being smart. C’mon, people!

  • ginidietrich

    robinbroder I was a little fired up yesterday!

    • robinbroder

      ginidietrich Understatement of the day. 🙂 But I loved it. And wholeheartedly agree!

      • ginidietrich

        robinbroder Ha! Fair point. And thank you.

  • rustyspeidel

    This might annoy you, but here goes…I guess part of me thinks you should stop caring and just do what you want! I promise you’ll get the respect you deserve–self-respect, which translates into external respect. I think Marissa Mayer doing Vogue is awesome, not because it enhances her hotness, but because she felt like it! She doesn’t ask men’s (or anyone’s) permission, she just acts. She runs YAHOO!! She’s bad to the bone. She gets it done on her terms. Love that.
    Men have traditionally had the power because they were initially physically stronger in a world that demanded it. Now that the playing field has been digitally leveled, the time to seize the future is now. Take what you want. Achieve what you want. Own it! I for one will not only get out of your way, I’ll help any way I can. There is nothing more attractive to me than a strong, confident, powerful woman who is self-assured, self-aware, accomplished in her chosen path, courageous enough to be herself, and not offended by her own feminine beauty, whether that lies within or without.

  • mickeygomez

    ginidietrich My main concern was that it didn’t look like her knees were touching the chair and it looked really uncomfortable. #priorities

    • ginidietrich

      mickeygomez I’m pretty sure you should never be put in an awkward pose because you’d end up breaking your head or something

      • mickeygomez

        ginidietrich But I have to think that those copies of Vogue would fly off the shelves, amiright? Or maybe that would be better for Time.

    • photo chris

      @mickeygomez ginidietrich does anyone in Vogue really look comfortable?

  • DrgnflyMktSci

    @!/ginidietrich Late to the convo…I’m sorry, but
    people think this photo is “sexy”?! She is in a dress that goes from
    her neck to her knees. *Gasp* she is showing her arms and is laying on a
    lounger, while skinny and a curved pose! She looks good, but certainly doesn’t
    cross some imaginary “to sexy” line.

    • DrgnflyMktSci The conversation about the pose is interesting….men are put in powerful positions and she’s put in a position where she’s laying on a couch. It doesn’t really bother me. I think she looks stunning.

  • photo chris

    i KNOW EXACTLY what you mean; it’s SO HARD. Unfortauntly, I don’t  think there’s a kid out there who doesn’t feel that way. Even the kids who are shredding others are doing so to make themselves “look good.” I just don’t think this sort of confidence comes until you are older….like 75. 😉

  • photo chris

    so much to look forward to.

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  • Excellent post! I read Lean In a few months back and it really got me fired up too. Some of the statistics are seriously depressing, particularly in the ways we hold ourselves back. In Canada we are lucky to have Federally mandated 12 month maternity leave, which certainly makes being a working mom easier, but the cost of day care ends up making working with young children not worth it for so many families. Why should we have to choose?

    In regards to the Vogue article, there are so many men who have done similar shoots and are never made fun of or taken less seriously for it.
    We definitely do need to support ourselves and one another more often. What got to me the most about Lean In, was the fact that women in power are less likeable…by other women! What the hell ladies?! We need to seriously give our heads a shake the next time we think a female executive is a b*tch for being tough.
    Anyway, I could go on, but I look very forward to reading your post about Lean In!

    • Quietglw The thing that bothers me the most about Lean In? All the criticism that is VERY clear the authors did not read the book. It inspired and empowered me. Is that how you felt, too?

  • KateNolan

    I haven’t read all of the comments yet, and I while, because this is a conversation that has to be read, responded to and generally pushed into the open, but I have to say that I’ve seen both the best and the worst of this in myself and my company.
    First, I’m jealous of Marissa Mayer. It’s true. She’s smart, successful and attractive. Would I want that? Heck yes, but instead of being threatened by it, I’m inspired by it. And this is true for Gini, too. A woman who has busted her butt to get where she is and (I assume) is dedicated to helping other women (and men) make their way. I say wear that Feminist hat/skirtsuit/pantsuit/whatever with pride, but also make sure to call out the negative connotations as BS!
    On my role in this: For the last four years I’ve worked with a group of women, for the first time essentially. I’ve worked mostly with men previously (other than one or two women) and it simply astounds me the attitudes that they have about ourselves and that our other coworkers have about them. They’re “the girls”; these women who have DECADES of industry experience and know more about printing than our salesmen (yes, all men) but they don’t trust their own guts when it comes to navigating some the managerial/relationship stuff. I’ve caught myself being overly negative with them because I have some “preferences” for office behaviour and dress that they don’t and I have a different roll (we’ll say “specialty” customer service and marketing) that is tough for us to all determine how, exactly, I fit into the office. That isn’t something the men have to deal with. Definitely some food for thought on my part and, I think, I’ll have to step up and take the role of leader in facilitating better communication as much as I can.
    (Just had to delete and repost because I forgot my manners and wasn’t speaking ladylike… uh, wait a minute…)

    • KateNolan Ha! Now I’m curious how you wrote it to begin with. I had a similar conversation to this with a friend of mine the other night. I think part of it happens because we’re just not aware – that’s the way things are done, if you will. But the more aware we are and the more willing we are to step up and change things, the more change we will see.

      • KateNolan

        ginidietrich KateNolan It wasn’t that much different than the current post, just some key editing to make it PG! (I didn’t want to get in trouble with the SS police.)
        Yup, awareness is probably a major part of it. We’re all so used to things the way they are that it can be hard to see it when it’s happening. I think I need to better recognize why I’m frustrated with someone and deal with that versus automatically going into catfight/takedown mode (or succumbing to it if I’m on the other end).

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  • SpinSucks

    Kristinesimpson Thanks Kristine!

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