Supposedly the Cinderella fairy tale originated in China. The story went through different versions in Asia, Korea, and Italy until the French added the twist of the glass slipper in the 1600’s. Interesting because centuries later the French gave us Louboutin shoes with the iconic red soles. And frankly, except for binding their feet, Asian countries have not been known for their women shoes as European countries have from Chanel to Gucci.
I bring this up because women’s shoes are still a source of discussion in the workplace as well as fairy tales. Just ask Sheryl Sandberg. As COO of Facebook she is as iconic to Facebook in her way as Zuckerberg is in his way. Yet he is known for wearing t-shirts and hoodies and she is known for wearing stiletto’s in a business very casual atmosphere.
Which just goes to prove that there is not equality in business. Picture their two closets, grey hoodies and red stilettos. Some might say it is her choice. To a degree it is her choice. All aspects of communication are audience driven rather than speaker driven. Audiences react differently to a woman in heels rather than flats. I know I feel differently in heels rather than flats.
A couple of years ago I broke a bone in my foot. I had to speak at a company retreat so I crammed my foot into a flat shoe rather than that oh so attractive boot. It truly was cruel and unusual punishment for me to speak, to feel and be perceived as empowered, in flat shoes.
Some could say the author of LEAN IN, chooses to wear the stilettos. I say she knows what she needs to wear to look successful and feel effective. She is a billionaire and listed as one of Time’s 100 most influential people in the world. I would think she could wear Nike’s if she wanted to, as Steven Spielberg did when he gave the commencement address at Harvard.
But apparently she doesn’t want to! She wants to go clickity click down the hall as the powerful person that she is.