Practical fashion magic: intern mentoring in the field (updated!)

Attractive young lady comes into a coffee shop in a short black cocktail gown and bright red heels at 8:30 am on a Friday morning. Shortly after she’s joined by a gent. What cross-disciplinary insights can we glean from this picture? As we mentor and coach our cadre of interns this summer, those are valuable questions to ask and to learn from.

In original research, Maria Elizabeth Grabe and Lelia Samson determined that differences in the way that men & women process information have significant implications for business effectiveness.

The graph from Sexual Cues Emanating From the Anchorette Chair: Implications for Perceived Professionalism, Fitness for Beat, and Memory for News, shows that women encoded more information, (paid more attention and were able to recall it), for the newsreader dressed in feminine attire compared with the same news articles, setting and audience, with the woman newsreader dressed to minimize sexual cues.

While the study reports men disproportionally allocate visual resources over auditory, (this is not news to wives all over the world…)

Grabe and Sampson, Male vs. Female Information Processing

Image: Grabe

Men’s attention on the newsreader’s appearance limited their uptake of spoken information, so they were able to recall substantially less about the stories she read during the simulated newscast.

While this comes as no surprise to some, it does confirm and endorse the now-integrated US military’s decision that men’s and women’s combat uniforms are practically identical.

So if our couple in the coffeeshop are out on a Friday morning date, not a thing wrong with that. If this young lady wanted to be effective in a business environment, then it’s “whoah Nellie” while we bring a few factors into focus:

Her perfume is applied so heavily that it could knock over a horse at 50 paces. That is typically an inexperienced wearer that doesn’t understand the three fold nature of fragrance (top note, mid-tone and base note).

3 Quick Orienting Questions

  1. Do teens (think they) know everything, yes or yes?
  2. When culture encounters physics, physics wins, yes or yes?
  3. If we realize calling a calf’s tail a leg does not make it one, is it silly to do it anyway, yes or yes?

Based on men’s hard-wired disproportionate visual dominance, she is doing both herself and her co-workers a dis-service to be dressing in “alluring” clothing rather than business wear. People cannot see clearly in clouded environments, yes or yes?

Workspace environments which obscure or cloud clear thinking; those which distract from the industry they’re engaged in, be that engineering, healthcare, chemistry, finance etc. take longer to accomplish tasks and are more error-prone, yes or yes? Lisa Poulson distills down my advice in “Elegance is refusal.”

Smart people make effective choices. Perpetual juveniles act selfishly and whine when culture encounters physics and physics wins every time.

Food for thought from the Rock Eel Café…

Until next time, Carpe Diem!


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