As the first female to join an all-male technology team at a financial institution, a new boys’ club inside an old boys’ club, I feel empowered to teach my fellow women a trick or two about getting ahead in the work place, or at least getting by. And by “empowered” I mean embarrassed and by “getting by” I mean cruising under the radar undetected like our ancestor witches in Salem.
It’s a dog eat bitch world out there and we need to help each other as much as we can. So here you go, read it and don’t weep, seriously, or you might as well bleed through your white skirt in the conference room right now...
1. Always remember your body is a liability. If you dress in well-fitting clothing then you are begging for attention, something baggy and you are hiding a pregnancy, anything in between and you are doing that “leaving it to the imagination” thing. No one will believe you when you say you just grabbed the first clean item you saw in your closet. Because you are ultimately screwed no matter what you do, always wear whatever you wore yesterday.
2. Know that if you say “like” just one time in a sentence, you will be labeled a Valley Girl forever. You must never “like” anything - you can love it, hate it or be sexually attracted to it, but never like. No similes for you, girl. Life is a box of period craving chocolates for you.
3. Learn to read a room. There comes a time, every 20 minutes, when one of your male colleagues will tell a story that is so hilarious it can only end in something wildly inappropriate to discuss at work - if you have female co-workers. Always know when you should politely excuse yourself so that they may finish their story in peace without worrying about offending you or triggering a lawsuit. Walk out backwards and slowly (you should have identified the exit before you walked in) and don’t call any attention to yourself. It would be rude of you to kill the story with your humor hating ovaries or distract them with your butt.
4. Pick a power move and stay consistent. Don’t know what a power move is? Of course you don’t, but let me help. It’s important to identify the leader in the pack and copy whatever he does. There’s always one guy who has that “I’m too intellectual to remember to shower regularly” vibe. He’s the one you want to stick with (the freshly washed guy is trying too hard and the walking mildew is very, very sick.) His move will be either the casual hand down the pants in the front or back, or sliding both hands down sideways simultaneously, not actually touching anything suspect. It’s never lewd because he will do it with the nonchalance of someone in his own living room. Now look around and notice the bean bag chair in the corner, the two pairs of shoes under the desk and the personal teapot balanced on the personal pot plant and know that you are in his living room, the team just happens to confer there. And what the hell are you doing with your hands down your skirt in someone’s living room? Have you no manners?
5. Embrace your inner nurturer. It’s not something to hide, just make sure you channel it in the right ways. Nurture the white board back to a clean bill of health after a meeting, feed the printer when it’s starving for paper and no one can figure out how to get it to stop whining. Always say that you will “take care of it” no matter what it is - because that’s just the type of go-getter you are. But if someone else gets there first, it’s ok because God made Adam first and what do you think you are God or something?