Fashion can be instrumental as a mechanism for blurring gender lines in order to establish greater credibility, but should the clothing a woman wears be influenced in any way by how men may or may not perceive them? Should the allocation of status and standing in one’s own industry be based so largely on what one wears as opposed to the actual outputs one produces?
"I work in IT which is a very male dominated industry. Everybody that I work with closely is male - coders, testers, technical managers - all male. Being a project manager I need them to do stuff for me, so if I walked in everyday wearing short skirts and high heels it wouldn’t go down well. I hate to say it but it’s true. They wouldn’t take me seriously. So a lot of my thinking around what I wear is based around my work.
I don’t like going to work being dressed overly feminine. It’s about being a woman but not highlighting the fact so much, so that you can be taken seriously at your job. At work it’s more casual and we wear jeans and stuff, but I still have to interact with clients so I have to dress up for those occasions. When I do it’s about wearing a nice simple dress and a pair of flats as opposed to a suit and a pair of heels. So I’m not dressing to look like a man but I’m not dressing like a high-powered lawyer either.
I don’t like that I have to tone down the fact that I’m a woman in order to be successful in my industry."
(Conversation with IT project manager Gemma Birse.)