Would you cut your hair to get a job?

2017 was a tough year for me. I had finished handed over the biggest and most amazing IT project of my career. My client: a very traditional German engineering company with approx. 14.000 employees. My role: project manager for a global roll-out of an IT system to the engine engineering, plant engineering and after-sales business. I loved it and my customer gave me an amazing reference.

At that time, I had long blond hair and I was super confident. Then I started searching for roles and projects in Switzerland. Not so easy, as I didn't have a deep network. Long story short, I had two interviews where the feedback was "we don't believe, you can deliver" and the second "we don't think that such a tiny person can deal with our engineering people". The later one was for a project, identical to my client, with an company half the size and in the similar industry. So copy and paste to half the size.

This feedback was devastating to me. Even more, as I met the selected project manager and he confirmed, that I had been better qualified for that role.

Too feminine for IT Roles?

On my reflection, I seamed to appear too feminine and soft with long blond hair for IT project management roles in the engineering industry. This impression was confirmed by a well-known recruitment agent (female). My light ball moment was, when I realised, that I had one this big project at my client at a time when I had short black hair. So I cut my hair short and within a few months I had an exciting senior role at a big 4 consulting firm.

I am the same person no matter what hair colour, length or style - however my impression on others is different. I believe there are a lot of unconscious bias within us on how we see people and in which kind of boxes we put them. And I have them too.

Choosing your impression with power

Becoming aware of these bias is one step. And using these different impressions we have consciously, is another.

Our clothing, style and body language are the elements that draft our first impression. They are part of the message we would like to give to the audience. And the audience can be our boss, our colleagues, a client, people at an event.

We don't need to become masculine in our roles within management consulting. This is one of the driving motivations behind the MasterMind Program "WomenLoveConsulting".

AND we can choose to be more masculine and or feminine whenever we feel like it. It is our choice.

Think of it as a theatre play - You have

  • the audience (boss, client, colleague,…),

  • your message you would like to get across

  • The stage (the setting or situation where you will deliver your message) and

  • All the props you would like to have to make the impact you want (clothing, body language, accessories, makeup,…)

This is your power.

What is my learning?

  • I became aware of this bias and my impression

  • I am choosing my appearance deliberately

  • I am more assertive and speak up towards such b.s.

  • I am creating "WomenLoveConsulting" so that it will be normal to see successful women in leading roles in projects.


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