While browsing the internet on a desperate search for inspiration for this week’s post I came across this article from California Watch. In short, it talks about how women in male dominated majors in college (specifically engineering) struggle with constant confidence issues- many of which end up dropping the major because they feel like they aren’t smart enough or feel like an outcast. One mechanical engineering and material sciences major at UC Berkeley reported that her male classmates didn’t take her seriously and often made comments about her blonde hair. She also always felt extra pressure not a make a mistake because when she did it was often attributed to her gender.
As awful and unfair as this is, it’s a reality that women in college and the workplace are going to have to deal with at some point in their lives. Society is continually making small steps forward, but we aren’t going to see a massive change in gender equality overnight. Therefore, we, as female students and professionals, need to know how to handle ourselves appropriately and with confidence so our male counterparts don’t have anything to complain about.
Success and confidence building all starts in the classroom. Your college or university is a safe place to practice the skills in which you will need once you enter into the workplace. In college, you have a massive support system around you that wants you to succeed. Nevertheless, as demonstrated above, the classroom is also an easy and common setting for sexism.
With August quickly approaching (yikes!) and fall following closely behind, I have outlined some basic classroom etiquette guidelines below. Hopefully, this will help ease some nerves, build a little extra confidence, and make all you smart women out there be taken a little more seriously.
*Just like everything else- be on time. If you are constantly arriving late it gives us the impression that you don’t care about the class or your success. If you happen to be late, take the closest seat to the door that you can find and don’t walk across the front of the classroom.
*Dress comfortably and appropriately- especially for women. You want to be taken seriously so dress to impress. No man (or professor) is going to take you seriously if you show up to class in high heels, a mini-skirt, and tight tube top. All you are asking for is inappropriate attention- save that outfit for the weekends.
*Try to use the restroom before class. Getting up in the middle of a lecture is disturbing to both the professor and other students in the class.
*Once the professor summons the class to begin, cease all conversations. You probably don’t like it when you see other people talking while you are so don’t do it to someone else.
*Turn off your cell phone so you aren’t tempted to constantly look at it or so that phone call from mom doesn’t accidently disturb the whole class- embarrassing.
*Try to take your notes the old-fashioned way- with a pen and paper. Laptops are great but they are also a distraction. If you absolutely need to use your laptop because you are a slow writer or your professor talks really fast it might be a good idea to block your access to the internet and other games you may have on your computer so you aren’t tempted.
*Don’t whip out a book, magazine, or newspaper during class and start reading. It’s just rude. Despite how good you are at hiding it, your professor can easily tell when someone’s eyes aren’t looking at him/her. Also, don’t constantly turn your head to glance at the clock. Unfortunately, the end of class isn’t going to arrive any faster.
*If you are chewing gum, do so softly. Don’t blow or pop bubbles. It’s probably best to just save the gum chewing until after class.
*If you are so tired to the point that you are going to fall asleep in class you probably just shouldn’t go. There is no point in being there if you are just going to sleep through the whole thing.
*Hand everything in when you are supposed to. If your professor usually collects papers at the beginning of class don’t arrive twenty minutes late. Show that you care about your work.
*If you need to leave a class early let the professor know either before the class starts or a few days before. Also, try to get a seat right next to the door so you don’t have to walk across the whole classroom.
*Don’t hurry the end of class by packing up your books and zipping your backpack up a few minutes before class is over. Again, it’s rude and distracting. Plus, you may miss the opportunity to write down some essential information about next class, the homework, or an upcoming exam. Class isn’t over until it’s over.
If you handle yourself with confidence, show that you care, and have a genuine interest in learning and furthering your education you will be taken seriously. Showing your weaknesses gives people an opportunity to beat you down. Do what you love and don’t let anyone (man or woman) scare you away from it.
Now, go practice your ‘lipstick confidence’!