A quarter of women believe they need to dress in macho styles, ditching the heels and skirts in favor of pantsuits, if they want to be treated seriously at the office, and a quarter of women keep the makeup to a minimum, the survey of 2,000 working women by British telecommunications firm O2 revealed.
But it’s not just about looks: half are afraid to show their true emotions, and two out of five confess to leaving the office to cry. Perhaps most depressingly, a fifth think they need to be more ruthless to get respect, and a small, but still terrifying, number (one in 20) think they need to mirror male behaviour to get that promotion.
"While businesses today have come a long way from the offices of Mad Men, the reality is that many modern women are still feeling the pressure to conform to outdated stereotypes,” a spokesperson for O2 commented.
The survey comes days after Burberry’s (female) boss commented that women can’t actually have it all.
What does this add up to? While we appreciate that not everyone works in an office where rocking up dressed like this is considered an excellent thing, what’s sad is that behaving and appearing professional is synonymous with behaving and appearing masculine in some women’s minds.
Maybe, just maybe, it’s a sign that there are still too few female role models at the top of business —and that’s why so many women think that looking or acting like their male colleagues is the only route to success. What is clear from this survey is that women aren't the ones who need to change: it’s the attitudes in the workplace that need to catch up.