Jezebel posted an interesting thought piece on the relative productivity hit women lawyers experience given how much time they must spend beautifying themselves in the morning. To look presentable enough for a law firm, women lose an hour of billable time according to The Price of Getting Pretty: Productivity. The author’s answer though isn’t to forgo the beautifying rituals despite their drawbacks because appearing put-together conveys polish and effort and, let’s face it, people want to be around people who look good. In essence, the post doesn’t justify the lack of productivity but seems to acknowledge that it’s a sacrifice women just have to bear. Poor me.
Now wait a second. There’s a totally different way to view this.
The hour (I spend 1/2 that much, but that may say more about me…) that it takes for women to primp and preen isn’t an hour away from work but rather a necessary component of work. Just like we need to take time to eat so we’re energized to work throughout the day, we need to know that we look our best in order to feel confident enough to push us to meet work challenges, offer new points of view and take creative leaps. I realize that law, like many professions, bills by the hour versus compensating for final deliverables, and, thus, not being at work means less time billed. But not having good ideas, strong solutions, or finesse with clients because we feel we look crappy hurts us professionally too.
That beautifying hour in the morning has other “productivity benefits” too. The sensory tasks of washing, moisturizing, styling, etc., help us migrate from rest to work, from home to office, from being laid back to full “on.”
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want women to earn less in order to be presentable at the office. But I do think that success is fueled by many things, and, undoubtedly, one of those things is confidence. So if spending a bit more time dressing up means a bit less time in the office, I say hand me the tweezers.