As a female breadwinner have you ever caught yourself suppressing your feminine traits in order to succeed? I know I have, in the past at work I’ve worn trouser suits, changed my language and not valued my unique perspective. And at home in moments I’m not proud of ‘I’ve talked about being capable of being man and woman of the house’
One thing that influenced and helped me value my feminine perspective was reading a book called Women’s Ways of Knowing I read this book when I was studying for my Masters in Management Learning and Leadership at Lancaster University and it has stayed with me. The book is based on the research from interviews with 135 women and describes five different perspectives from which women view reality and draw conclusions about truth, knowledge, and authority. How they often feel silenced by what could be described as masculine, logical and singular arguments.
What’s interesting for me is that because the masculine is often rewarded, women and men can start to devalue their feminine qualities. The reality is that men are encouraged to be as masculine as possible and women are taught to downplay feminine characteristics to get ahead in the workplace. I however believe that your femininity has a unique value. Precious attributes like emotional intelligence, a draw towards collaboration and social responsibility can set you apart for the better.
It makes sense that a woman taking on the traditionally masculine role breadwinner means that you combine the masculine and the feminine. But if you find the masculine taking over in a way that is not good for you, you may need to rekindle your femininity.
In my book Rocking Your Role, I provide a framework in order to help you determine the qualities you work hard to present to the world and the ways to turn these off when you need to. Here are some tips to get started:
Value feminine traits– don’t push feminine traits aside because they are not valued in the workplace or because of your role as main earner. Bring one feminine quality back into your day for 30 days to remind yourself how useful it can be. Embrace being motherly, vulnerable, emotional, quiet, soft, loving, kind or whichever quality it is that you have been suppressing and notice the difference it makes in your life.
Nurture your femininity – once you have learned to value your feminine side don’t forget to look after it whatever it is that makes you feel like a woman. This could be new lingerie, a shopping date, meditation, or a meal with friends. If it feels too girly, do it!
Set your own terms – the role of main earner is traditionally male and you may work in a male dominated environment, but that doesn’t mean you have to act like one. You can be a main earner on your own terms; educate others to value what you bring while also valuing what they have to offer. Future generations will be grateful that you did.
Remember being feminine isn’t a curse; it’s a blessing. Get back in touch with it and maintain your femininity, if not to show the world that it is ok, but to remind yourself that it is.
I am Jenny Garrett, Executive Coach, founder of Reflexion Associates, a leadership and coaching consultancy and author or Rocking Your Role – the how to guide to success for female breadwinners. See my Certificated Rocking Your Role: Women Breadwinners and Entrepreneurs programme, it might be just the development that you’re looking for.