Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Time For Jumping Corporate Ship? More Women Becoming Entrepreneurs, and Happy About It

Looks like some true career shape shifting is definitely underway by more and more women who are 1) just starting their careers, 2) already in the midst of corporate careers, and 3) who are moving into retirement and starting their own successful businesses.
Still too often faced with unequal pay and related discrimination, women are opting out of the workforce in increasing numbers, says a recent report by The Nation. Apparently, between 1993 and 2006, the number of college-educated women in the workforce fell by a tenth of a percent a year, and by 2008, the workforce had 1.64 million less college-educated women than it should have, if women had not been leaving at a significant pace.
These numbers, as distressing as they may seem, feel right. I left a corporate journalism career (after working for various publications) years ago, tired of discrimination, and deciding I would be better off doing my own research, writing, and self-publishing my own articles and books.
Recently sharing this experience with a young woman who was thinking about leaving her current job, as we talked over lunch about the old boy network, I advised, "Develop your own niche business and you'll be happier and more successful."
Another friend, after recently experiencing job loss, confided she is not going to look for any more "jobs," but plans to set up her own sales company. She received my blessings, too; I know they will both succeed because they are skilled, smart, motivated, and VERY sick and tired of jousting at work with white men (young and old) who work less productively, but often appear to have it easier getting raises and climbing the corporate ladder.
Sure, some change has arrived as the Women's Movement slowly progresses. But this march too often follows the beat of a tired drummer, and change does not happen fast enough. Hence, many women are - as civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer once put it - "sick and tired of being sick and tired," reporting they don't appreciate the sex role stereotyping that still goes on, along with frequent lack of opportunity, poor mentoring, glass ceilings and other issues that still have not disappeared, even with support of The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC).
Wasn't the workplace support to become more open with possibilities for women and others? More fair?
(If you never heard her name, Mrs. Hamer, was a heroic African American social activist in rural Mississippi in the mid 1950s and 1960s, was a devout civil rights leader who bravely brought the 1964 National Democratic Party's convention to its knees as she and Democrat colleagues tried to take Mississippi's official delegate seats for themselves.These party members were sick and tired of being "represented" by white, male Dixiecrats, a short-lived segregationist party.)
About my two friends...
Undoubtedly, if they follow through with their current plans to leave existing careers and go into business for themselves, they will surely have more money and end up with careers they can take into retirement. They will not have a glass ceiling staring them in their faces, and they will not be spending time with office politics or be the subjects of discrimination, hostility, bullying and stereotyping.
They will not have to face the possibility of upcoming reproductive rights battles, at least directly. (Remember those days when you couldn't get a job unless you promised not to get pregnant? Or when you could not get a job because you had a child? Will Arizona really succeed in requiring that women tell their employers why they are asking for birth control?)
Apart from obvious concerns, such as the inherent disparity in women's pay and the general brain drain of educated women dropping out of the workforce, I wonder if anyone is tracking how many women are not so much leaving the workforce as reinventing it, like my two friends.
It is not a surprised that women absorb enormous costs when they work outside of the home, but raises are not being handed out generously, these days, and the cost of daycare only goes up, so it is practically silly NOT to leave the workforce under these conditions, observes Cedar Burnett, writing for Salon.
"If you're working long hours for less pay than your husband, and your entire monetary contribution is sucked up into preschool, employment outside-the-home seems like an exercise in self-flagellation rather than actual need."
Once these college-educated women leave the workforce, what are they doing? Some are starting micro businesses--selling jewelry, make-up, food supplements, eBooks, stuff on eBay or they are becoming personal trainers, freelance editors, offering massage or other related health-care services. Well-written blogs are often the driving force behind these new opportunities.
Burnett reports that "...legally, or not-so-legally, women are increasingly working 10-40 hours a week outside the traditional workforce model - besides raising their children. Are labor statistics tracking this? At least for the cash-economy jobs, almost certainly not."
This entrepreneurial model will only gain in popularity as younger women start having their babies and as women get fed up and move out of corporations-and as more and more women retire. Unable to find meaningful, well-paying part-time work, educated women "raised to defy tradition" should gravitate toward alternative self-employment.
"Even without children, if the choice is to work 40-60 hour weeks in a competitive work environment (that is, if they can even find a job) or try and craft your own business, many women of all ages are going to say goodbye to the confines of the traditional workforce," Burnett states. From my own observations and experiences, I believe that she is absolutely correct.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Got Skeletons in Your Closet? Time for a Spring Clean!

Sometimes it can be hard to know what to wear on a busy morning, especially if you are running late to work. Today we are looking at a couple of wardrobe basics that will give you hassle-free mornings and an inspirational wardrobe that is brag-worthy!
Tackling the Wardrobe beast is easier than you think. Most of are guilty of wardrobes that when opened seem to stretch all the way to Narnia but we're hard pressed to see anything in there especially when it's all mixed up.
This is not a revelation of any sort but an organized wardrobe is a powerful wardrobe. First of all you can see all the clothes and options you have when they are separated into neat sections, by colour or by type of clothes, whichever works best for you. This avoids frantic "where is that top" moments, when you really needed to be out of the door an hour ago.
No matter how well-intentioned you are, every time you "clean" your wardrobe, you still end up holding on to relics from your past that are no longer relevant or wearable.
These just end up clogging your wardrobe and because you're emotionally attached to some of your clothes, you will find it difficult to be objective about getting rid of that high-waisted pair of faded jeans that you had your first kiss in...a few decades ago!
One of the best ways to let go of the ghosts of the past hiding in your wardrobe is to hire a professional stylist to give you a wardrobe makeover especially if you are serious about making a massive change in your wardrobe and also in your heart and head.
A Stylist will happily go through your wardrobe with you, making the process of tacking the skeletons in your closet, less scary and a whole lot of fun. With their expert knowledge and non-biased opinion they will be able to tell you how to get the most out of your wardrobe, what should stay, what should go, what needs updating and if you're missing any basics.
Just like having a personal trainer at the gym, your personal stylist will help you to make the decisions which you find hard to make by yourself and a Stylist is much nicer than any personal trainer will ever be!
It's amazing to see clients as they discover that their wardrobe reflects their lives and personality, and confront some of the obstacles that have been holding them back in having the best image and being the best version of themselves.
We've often found that the fact that you still keep holding on to clothes that you can't possibly wear for whatever reason (size, colour, sentimental value) says a lot about you and getting rid of those old 'baggage' often is the first step towards a more confident and an empowered You.
Think of it this way...How would you like a friend, a stranger or your boss to see your wardrobe? Would you be comfortable showing them? Is your wardrobe reflecting order and oozing out confidence or is it a chaotic place where a few skeletons are gathering dust?
It's not about how expensive your clothes are. We are talking about an organised and an efficient wardrobe with a healthy mix of classics, basics, fun and flirty, and downright queer if you are into that.
There's never been a better time to give yourself and your wardrobe a fresh start than right now!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Feminine Without the Fussy Bits

After 40, most business and professional women want to cast off the girlish tendencies of their youth and show a stronger personality. Unless you have a very strong feminine element to your personality, you no longer want to wear the dainty floral patterns, frills galore or neckline or waistline bows. Most of us have passed the stage of experimenting with all of this.
In our desire to be seen as a strong and wise professional woman, it is easy to wear only classic styles and forget to be feminine. How do you tap into your femininity without being too fussy or too girlish?
Here are three smart dressing tips for you.
Feminine and Strong
Look for a business dress or suit in a strong or abstract floral pattern with a maximum of three to five colours. A strong pattern may be reflected in colour blocking that combines a floral pattern with a plain dark colour. An abstract may be a floral pattern where the flowers are large and have muted or blended edges. Choose this strong or abstract floral dress or suit in a simple modern classic style that fits or skims your body. This combination of pattern and style shows your womanly confidence and inner strength. Keep your accessories to a minimum and classically simple.
Feminine and Classic
Here we balance your feminine floral pattern with a solid colour on one half of your body. This is a classic way of combining two separate pieces of clothing. The easiest way to do this and not be fussy is to wear a black or dark-neutral coloured skirt or pants with a top or jacket in a floral pattern that includes some of the dark in it.
A more interesting feminine and classic look is to add the solid colour to the top half of your body. When dressing for a business or professional situation, look for a strong not dainty floral-patterned skirt that is in a modern, semi-fitted style. Wear your choice of skirt with a plain solid coloured top, a knit or a jacket.
A modern dressing tip for business women over 40 is to team an all-floral dress with a trench coat. Button it up or leave it open depending on how much femininity you want to express. A trench coat is a more modern look than the usual solid-coloured jacket worn over a floral dress.
Again keep your accessories simple and classic.
A Little Femininity
This is for those who want to show their softer side without compromising their strength. Here we limit your feminine dressing to an accessory only.
Look for an accessory in a simple, stylised flower shape eg a gold or silver necklace incorporating a flower outline, a leather cream or camel-coloured flower brooch or a scarf with some muted flowers dotted throughout the pattern. If flowers are definitely not your style, you might consider using colour as your way of being feminine but not fussy. You might consider adding your choice of accessory in a soft pink or a salmon pink colour. If you want feminine but not near your face, look for a feminine style, colour, pattern or feature on the shoes you wear.
Do Not Go Here: Avoid all floral, centre-buttoned, boxy, revere-collar blouses. Do not even consider even wearing them as an open jacket. This style will make you look old and feel dowdy.
The secret to all of feminine without the fussy bits is in keeping your feminine touches to a floral design or a feminine-coloured accessory and ignoring the fussy bows, frills, white lace etc.