Saturday, March 5, 2016

Power in Heels

How do you feel in heels? Do you feel elegant, feminin, sexy, or maybe even wobbly? Does wearing heels make you feel empowered? No? Maybe it's time to rethink that.

Psychology today recently published an article called 'The surprising power of women in high heels.' Intriguing title isn't it? Here's a quick recap for you; 
Nicolas Gueguen (2014) performed a series of experiment with women wearing varying heel heights. There were three selections; flats, 5cm heels and 9cm heels. Gueguen had the subjects go out onto the street to provoke reactions from random bystanders. In two out of the four experiments the women were asked to take surveys, one on equal right and the other on dining preferences. The third experiment involved the women dropping something and measuring the willingness of bystanders to lend a hand. For the final experiment the women were sent to a bar to see how long it would take for them to be approached by men.

The results;
Experiment 1 and 2 (surveys) showed that the higher the heels, the more willing especially men were to participate. (High heels 82-83% vs. flats 42-47%). However, these differences didn't show for female bystanders, they showed a 30-36% response percentage no matter the shoes the women were wearing.
In experiment 3, 93% of men were willing to lend a helping hand to the women wearing high heels, as opposed to 63% for women in flats. Here women were also consistent in their willingness to help; 43-52%. 
For experiment 4 it only took men 8 minutes to approach the women I high heels, vs 14 minutes for women in flats. 

The conclusion is that if you want to pursue, persuade or desire help from a man, high heels could be your key to success! 

What is interesting to me is what this implies for gender equality. Because there are a lot of women rising to the top in the business world (finally). There are a lot of misconceptions about women in powerful positions. Sheryl Sandbergs book 'Lean in, women, work and the will to lead' shows a different experiment that gives us a clearer picture of the role gender stereotyping can play in the business world. In the experiment two candidates for a position present their resumes listing their business success. The catch? The resumes are identical, except for the fact that one is presented as a male candidate and the other a female. The results? The men were mostly viewed as appealing, whereas the women had to endure lots of criticism. That is pretty much the red thread of the book, women have to endure and face a lot more challenges and criticism in the same positions where their male counterparts don't have to go through as much. The business world for successful women is described as a jungle gym for women, as opposed to the well known ladder metaphor for men. 
Sandbergs goal with her book is to get people to start talking about gender stereotyping and the effect this has on women who mean business.

And it seems that some women have heard her call. A great example of this is the women's division of the Burleson Area Camber of Commerce; The Power of Heels. This group creates opportunities for women in top positions and female owned businesses to connect and network at their events. I think that is a great way to support powerful women and to develop a network where women can be in their power together. 

So knowing what we know now about the effect of high heels on men, I say let's use it. Ladies, it's time for us to use this knowledge to our advantage. Let's wear those heels proudly and strut our ways to the top of companies, businesses and careers. Because men have been doing whatever it takes for centuries to get to those positions of power. It is time for us to take the lead. May your heels be your pedestal and the inspiration to your empowerment!