As I read the chyron “Girls Gone ‘Mild’: Book Advises Women Not To Raise Their Voices,” I was all ready to watch this Fox News segment advising women on how to carry themselves professionally in the workplace and then kill it with fire.
But as Sylvia Ann Hewlett, the author of Executive Presence: The Missing Link Between Merit And Success, addressed “Fox & Friends” this morning about ways women can up their gravitas in the workplace, I found myself thinking, Hey, this is not such bad advice.
As Hewlett describes it, conveying leadership ability may look slightly different for women than it does for men. Women, for instance, may be used to downplaying their accomplishments so as not to look like they are gloating, or let others speak so they don’t seem bossy or appear to dominate a conversation. Instead, Hewlett advises that bosses want to see gravitas, which is the ability to handle oneself well. Women should comport themselves as knowledgeable, competent, and strong.
And yes, Hewlett does address not raising your voice in the workplace — but she also says this applies to men, too. Keeping one’s voice even is not about masking your anger, Hewlett explains, but rather about always maintaining the appearance of control. When your voice rises, you sound like you’re losing control of yourself and thus the situation. I don’t find that advice sexist in the least bit. (I’ve worked for men and women who’ve yelled at work, by the way, and quit working for the male boss who yelled because it was less predictable and scarier.) The problem here is Fox News’ controversy-stirring chyron, not so much what their guest actually said.