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get bossy! women and leadership

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I was recently interviewed for The San Francisco Chronicle since I will be doing a Macy’s event in San Fran on March 23rd (I’m currently in Orlando to do a styling event at Macy’s Millenia – more info here) . One of the questions focused on the Women’s Movement which is in the news lately because of the COO of Facebook Sheryl Sandberg

There are many points that Sandberg makes in her 60 Minutes interview (video above and more here) that I find thought-provoking. She talks about how girls are taught to mute their intelligence and not believe that their success is due to their inherent abilities, like men, but more to luck and help from others. This same hesitation is what, she claims, limits women from taking leadership roles in the business world. Women need to recognize this tendency and support each other and also look for supportive partners so they can take their ambition to the highest level. Here here! What do you think?

Sheryl Sandberg took her inspiring message from her 2011 TEDTalk, and wrote a book “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead”. (read an excerpt from the book here) Sandberg also started the Lean In Foundation as a way to keep the conversation going.

The question I was asked:

Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg spoke passionately on 60 Minutes last night about modern feminism and how in order to lead women need to choose the right life partner (who will support their work) as well as network and raise other women. As a successful leader and someone who speaks so much about the blurring of gender lines and modern domestic divas and empowering young women, I’m wondering if you have an opinion. How do you define feminism?

My Answer:

I really commend Sheryl Sandberg for being vocal about her opinions and I agree with many of them! I guess that is part of the point, that I’m supporting a fellow female! I think the truest definition of feminism is supporting the wonderful qualities in all of us that are female and working to have a balanced world culture. Feminism shouldn’t be about defining characteristics that are inherently feminine or masculine so that woman may strive to be more “manly” by being powerful and successful. To me, real feminism is recognizing that power and ambition are sexless qualities and it is possible to be absolutely feminine AND powerful.

There is great power in femininity and I think that is why tradition (men?) have tried to dampen it over centuries i.e. FGM (female genital mutilation – more info here), no civil rights for women, etc. Mr. Kate is about challenging tradition, the norm….I am MR. Kate after all and I’m a total girly girl! Fortunately, woman in our culture are given the opportunities to create lives for ourselves in the public sector and I agree with Sandberg that a lot of it has to do with your mind set. It is still somewhat new territory in a woman’s psyche to think that she is equipped with everything needed to take a leadership role in the business world. I encourage the females that work for me all the time to be “bossy”! To me that means that they believe in their ideas and thus themselves and have the power to voice their opinions in our work environment. Mr. Kate is a collaboration and I am only as good as the sum of my parts, both internally and in my business. It is crucial that females lift each other up with support and encouragement instead of judgement and jealousy. A huge motivation for me with Mr. Kate is to empower girls to feel valid and special being themselves so they can go conquer the world (not each other) in positive ways that breed happiness and not resentment.

I also agree with Sandberg that it is immensely helpful to have a supportive partner if you want to be a successful woman in business and with your family. I have not had kids yet but my boyfriend (of 6 years, Joey Zehr) is my business partner in Mr. Kate. He is my foil and the business would not be what it is today without him. He is a modern man in that he honors my value as a business woman and it does not threaten him in the least! As it becomes more the norm for women to work astride men in leadership roles, men are going to have to redefine what they’re looking for in a partner. It’s sexy and feminine to be powerful and ambitious and to also like a sock bun, a statement necklace and a fabulous pair of shoes! Work it girls!!!

Another great read for hard-working women is Tina Fey’s Bossypants which I wrote about here.

How do YOU define feminism? What are your thoughts on Sandberg’s “Lean In” movement? Do you have a specific moment where you “leaned in” or back at work? I want to know! Comment below and share your thoughts…

(images via wired.com, huffingtonpost.com)

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