By Jenifer Snyder, Executive Director of The mGive Foundation
“I was born this way,” proclaims the anthem of a current pop diva. If you prefer a more traditional expression of that sentiment, consider, “to thine own self be true.” But whether it’s the words of Lady GaGa or William Shakespeare that speak to you, my advice is to embrace that message and be true to who you are and not who others or our culture tell you to be.
And that advice goes double in matters of gender roles in the workplace.
I’ve never let myself be constrained by conforming to society’s norms of how a woman should act in the workplace if it wasn’t consistent to who I am as a person and my own professional values.
Long ago, I decided to shrug off how I was “supposed” to behave. For me, this meant not listening to advice about how I was to ignore what might be considered stereotypical female behaviors. It is more important to me to be genuine and cultivate a leadership style that plays to my strengths and fits the organization and people I lead. Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama offer two good examples of women who are comfortable with themselves and who embrace their own distinct approaches to gender roles.
“Which designers do you prefer?” a reporter once asked then-Secretary of State Clinton, to which she famously replied, “Would you ever ask a man that question?” Whereas First Lady Michele Obama has appeared on the cover of Vogue, embracing her influence as a fashion trendsetter without diminishing her stature as a successful lawyer. Both women have stellar careers forged by their own unique personalities and approaches to “traditional” gender roles.