GenX women in higher ed from around the globe

Posts Tagged ‘feminine’

Social Distortion: Blurring the Professional and the Personal on Twitter

In Vistas from Venus on 2010/05/14 at 09:18

One of the most memorable applications I have ever reviewed was submitted from  a student from China who was the owner of a small chain of shops that sold scarves and accessories.  Included with her application was a glossy brochure that she had had professionally printed in full color.  It showed photos of her in her shops, photos from her vacations, and photos of her with her friends and family.  It also included her biography, a history of her company, and a page on her likes and pet peeves.  Although it was unconventional, this woman was very confident about selling herself to us in a way that she had well thought out.

Yesterday, Mary and I met for coffee and of course, University of Venus came up.   Mary has been encouraging me to build my personal brand through social media: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.  I have been resisting Mary’s advice for months.

I mainly use Facebook to entertain.  My Facebook friends are actually my friends and family.  I am a regular Facebook user; it is my main form of communication with people that I don’t see every day.  Until the launch of this blog, I had never used it for anything professional.  Each day the line dividing personal and professional blurs a little more.

I am a lurker on Twitter.  I follow a few people, and have 5 close friends that follow me, but I rarely tweet and my tweets are private.   I have been reluctant to start publicly tweeting, until I know what I want to use it for. Twitter seems to need a strategy, a marketing plan of sorts.  In the meanwhile, I read other people’s tweets, and try to learn from their strategies.

I am terrified of LinkedIn.  I put up my resume, connected with a few people, and have been afraid to log in ever since.  I suppose I am an avoider. It is clear that LinkedIn is Professional. A friend who is also new to social media once said the following: “I’ve been told that LinkedIn is the office, Facebook is the neighborhood cookout, and MySpace is the bar.” When your home office and the local coffee shop become extensions of your workplace, where do you draw the line? Are you a different person in different contexts?

Although my relationship with these three networks varies, I do think that building my brand is important.

I am in a strange place in my career.  I am no longer new to the world of work, and I am a member of the senior leadership team.  However, I don’t think I have paused to think about what I stand for or what I want to be known for.   I need to focus on thinking  of myself as an asset that is compelling, authentic, and consistent.  I need to create my own definition of success and ensure that it motivates me.  I am finding this task to be somewhat intimidating. I always thought that hard work would speak for itself. However, I now realize that self-promotion is not only a good idea but a 21st century necessity.

What do you think? Is personal branding vital for success at work? Is the concept relevant only to Western audiences, or is it also important in other areas of the world? Are there any drawbacks to marketing yourself in this way? If so, what should you do about it?

Meg Palladino

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Men Swagger, Women…?

In Vistas from Venus on 2010/03/26 at 09:00

Meg Palladino, writing from Boston, Massachusetts in the USA

Since I became an administrator, I have had a yearly performance evaluation.  Overall, they have been positive, but I am consistently criticized for one thing, year after year: my lack of “swagger.”

It is a confusing thing to be criticized for.  When I look up “swagger” in, I find:

–verb (used without object)

1. to walk or strut with a defiant or insolent air.

2. to boast or brag noisily.

–verb (used with object)

3. to bring, drive, force, etc., by blustering.


4. swaggering manner, conduct, or walk; ostentatious display of arrogance and conceit.

It is difficult for me to believe that this is a desirable quality.  Swaggering makes me think of bullies and cowboys; it is very macho.

Is it swagger that I need to be successful as an administrator?  When I was a full-time teacher, the qualities that made me successful were patience, knowledge, authority, and perhaps my sense of humor.  These qualities made my students feel comfortable and helped bring them together.  However, in my role as an administrator, I have been trying to develop my swagger.  I have a fancier notebook and nicer pens.  I wear more blazers.  I think before I speak.  I smile less.   I feel lonelier.

Moving from a teaching role to an administrative role was moving from a traditionally female role to a typically male role.  When I was teaching, it was easy and natural for me to be in a collaborative, friendly environment.  Administration is more competitive, political, and ruthless.  I need to rely on a different skill set to navigate my way.

Although I have made improvements, I still feel like I am missing the mark.   I know that I don’t actually want a swagger.   I want to improve my confidence.  I want to raise my game.  What is the feminine form of swagger?

Meg Palladino

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A name is a name is a name?

In Anamaria's Posts on 2010/02/01 at 22:00

University of Venus. A very catchy name. It sounds good, with the resonant repetition of the middle “ve”: uniVErsity of VEnus. It clicks on the tongue and in the brain. But is it really under the sign of Venus that we should want to start our endeavor? As someone who spent the past seven years of her life looking at the role of myths in contemporary politics, I was immediately provoked by the title of our blog.

Venus. Is Venus “right” for our virtual venture? Venus is the name the Romans gave to Aphrodite, the goddess they borrowed from the Greeks. Who is Venus? According to my favorite source of information about words, the OED, Venus is “the goddess of beauty and love (esp. sensual love)”. The sensual side of things is further connoted by the other meanings of the word: it designates a palæolithic fertility figure or “the desire for sexual intercourse; indulgence of sexual desire; lust, venery” (the last word a direct descendant of our original noun). Finally, “Venus” can be lifted to a high level of abstraction defining the very idea of charm and beauty, or can be taken down to earth to refer to the attractive and beautiful women one meets in everyday life.

The Birth of Venus

Source: Wikipedia Commons

What are we left with as a general impression? The very ideal of the feminine, as we have been used to since Antiquity, perfectly illustrated by Botticelli’s painting.

Venus is how a woman should be, the unattainable standard of perfection. But, and here comes my critique, this is the ideal of a woman as seen by a man. Should we embrace this definition of the feminine in this blog, which specifically aims to change the predominance of the male element? And moreover, should we take Venus, the goddess of love, of sex, of the body, of sensual beauty to be our protective spirit?

My first reaction was NO. I am more of a Minerva type, I thought. Minerva, perhaps not as gorgeous but certainly much wiser. The goddess of reason and not of the emotions. The rather cold-hearted Minerva, beweaponed, a strategist on the battle field, a planner, an achiever, determined, combative, brilliant. The University of Minerva. Well, I can definitely feel the obvious lack of clang. It does not sound as good, does not resonate with the public. We want to be heard, we want to be read.

And then, The University of Venus may be actually a better choice not only for promotion purposes. It embraces a label we might not automatically agree with, and turns it on its head. We are the mind of the heart, emotional intelligence, intelligence tout court. The University of Venus brings together women, beautiful, emotionally developed women, passionate about their cause. The same women who not only can reflect theoretically, but can also feel, believe, engage with the world. We are both Minerva and Venus. The brain is in fact the headquarters of both reason and feelings. And least be forgotten, the heart is just a muscle.

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