Less than twenty years ago, it was a novelty to see a woman in the workplace in corporate America. It sparked an entire era (the 1980s) of cultural shift that was mirrored in movies, music and television shows like 9 to 5, Working Girl and Mr. Mom (and in part, the New Power Girls series). Today, women now make up for more than 60% of the American workforce.
It's no longer a novelty to see a woman in a corporate office. In fact, chances are, she is running some type of department - or the company itself.
Yet as I cross the poolside deck of a chic oceanside hotel for an industry event, I'm one of just three women total in attendance. I notice, but am non-pulsed. Business development and strategy hasn't yet become a hot career for most women to select -- I'm often the only girl in the room. Despite the fact that more women than ever are in the business world today, there are still many markets that are considered male-dominated.
It's a topic that comes to mind as I chat with Nancy London, Vice-President of Global Brand Management for Westin Hotels & Resorts. The hotel and hospitality business is notorious for being mostly male-dominated. Nancy's one of the few women at the top in the business.
"It's definitely different today," Nancy begins as we start to talk about what it's like to work within a predominantly male environment in today's business. Though studies show that women still have a long way to go in terms of equality and other issues at work, women today have advanced further than ever before. It ranges from the roles we take, to the opportunities available, to how we conduct ourselves and dress.
In fact, the inherent traits and characteristics of the female gender can actually be to our advantage - and to the benefit of business. Today more than ever, women are aware of this and tapping it, whether they're in male-dominated markets or not.
Nancy shared that her natural-born intuition and an ability to read people, along with innate skills of hospitality and community, have helped her work within the hospitality business. She's found that by tapping these skills in her interactions with male (and female) counterparts has opened new engagement and opportunities, to both her and the company's benefit.
It's a bit of a different world than most women faced in the early days of women in business. Rather than keeping feminine traits and skills under wraps, women today lend it to directly benefit their work and business. It's a sentiment I can attest to in my own company and work, whether I'm the only woman in the room or one of many.
Power Girls know that being a woman in the business world can be to everybody's advantage.