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Clothes Create Chronology

My husband and I are in Las Vegas at the moment, getting together with some old friends. This is the second time we’ve met up with them here in Vegas, and today we were trying to decide how long ago our last visit took place. Was it three years ago or four? None of us could pinpoint the date, but I was able to establish the timeline by remembering what clothes I’d been wearing.

It’s a talent a lot of women share: the ability to remember the clothes we wore on every occasion. When planning a 50th birthday party for my husband Wade, I sat with his sister looking at slides to show at the party. As we tried to figure out when each was taken, we discovered it was easiest to establish dates by looking at how we were dressed. “I remember buying that suit for a friend’s wedding who was married a year before us,” I’d say as I flipped through. We women love our clothes and tend to remember how we felt wearing them. Our memories revolve around them, and they help create a chronology.

Why is this so? I think it’s partly because women are by nature creative creatures, and clothes are a natural creative outlet. I’ve always enjoyed being able to express my creativity through my clothes, even when I was working in corporate and limited to power suits. During that period, I purposefully kept my look fairly conservative. In the male-dominated world of mining and agriculture where I worked, it was a liability to express femininity. In a subtle way, to be female meant I was expressing weakness – that I needed to be protected and wasn’t an equal member of the team. I denied my natural self and acted out the male characteristics I felt would ensure my inclusion and success.

When I left that life behind, I suddenly found myself wanting to reclaim my suppressed femininity, trading in my suits for flowing skirts and long earrings. I so doing, I came to realize that our feminine power should be encouraged, not buried. We need to reclaim our position as full-fledged partners to allow us to bring forth our skills and talents to the workplace.

For a number of reasons, the world would be a better place with more women in senior positions in businesses and organizations. The diversity would benefit everyone, as the female energy would provide a nice balance to all the male testosterone in the boardroom. Women are by nature less impulsive and more risk averse; it’s kind of like those hunters who would have kept killing the animals if the women back at the cave hadn’t said, “Hey, we have enough food. Let the herd replenish.”

In fact, companies with more women in senior positions tend have better results and are exposed to less risk. A recent study cited in the New York Times found that male traders in a market upswing experienced a rise in testosterone similar to that found in male athletes; as a result, they lose sight of external signals and take unnecessary risks. This irrational behavior could have exaggerated the stock market bubble in today’s world, just as it could have depleted the herds eons ago. Both then and now, having the women there to sayBusiness Management Articles, “That’s enough” provides balance and benefit. Our participation would help to smooth out the highs and lows – and give us an opportunity to show off our wardrobes.

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After a highly successful career in business, including 26 years with PotashCorp where she was Senior Vice-President, Betty-Ann retired in 2007, the same year that she was named to Canada‘s Most Powerful Women: Top 100 Hall of Fame™. She now works as a speaker, author and mentor and is committed to using her personal and professional experiences to inspire and empower other women.  A firm believer in the value women bring to organizations, Betty-Ann explores changing perceptions of male and female roles including candid observations about what she calls "Good Gender Physics” on her blog at She helps both men and women understand the primary energy of their gender but also accept and appreciate the strengths of their opposite.

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