As a young female professional who’s had a full time job for about four months now, I think I’m mostly qualified to write this article. Which, judging by the way the business world works, should mean I can probably manage to pull it off.
There are a few basic struggles I think pretty much all of my 20-to-30-something female peers working in an office environment can relate to. Correct me if I’m wrong.
1. Older professionals thinking you’re clueless
Nothing is more annoying than having a more ‘experienced’ person express doubt that you’ll succeed with a task you’re perfectly capable of handling. You think because I’m a young woman I don’t know how to hold a conversation or shake someone’s hand? Spoiler alert: I can also answer the phone, conduct myself well in a meeting, and could probably teach you a thing or two about basic social interaction. Just because I’m young doesn’t mean I have my head up my ass.
2. Striking the ‘professional yet pretty’ balance
When you’re in a professional setting, sometimes it’s hard to find the look that’s appropriate for work but doesn’t make you feel like you’re decades older than your age. Turns out there are a lot of unwritten rules about what women should wear to work. Did you know that wearing a collar makes you seem more authoritative? Go figure. And hint: that super cute skirt that you think just might be too short? It’s too short. Better safe than sorry.
3. Coworkers or clients assuming they can walk all over you due to your age/gender
The second that people in a professional environment realize you’re younger than them, many will take it for granted that they can pressure you to give them their way. When you have to maintain a professional presence instead of telling them exactly where they can shove that email they sent (with horrible grammar, no less), it can get really old, really fast. The assumption that you can be pushed around seems to be especially applicable to young women, unfortunately. But hey, what else is new?
No, I will not make that copy for you. You have two hands and have used that copier longer than I have. Do it yourself.
Remember college? Wonderful, wonderful college? When you did not have to wear heels every day and you could even get away with wearing- gasp- slippers or flip flops?! Sure, heels are great sometimes. Like, any time except at 7 AM. Or after an 11-hour workday. No. Just no.
5. People in the workplace trying to compliment you but saying something sort of demeaning
Is there anything more demeaning than people being surprised when you do something right? “Oh wow, you did a really great job with that. Especially for your age.” WHAT IS THAT EVEN SUPPOSED TO MEAN? Also, your tone of surprise kind of makes me feel like you expected me to fail- how very awesome of you. And, I’m sorry, did you just call something about me CUTE? IN A WORK SETTING? Sigh.