I spent the morning with four of my interviewees. Not in real time, face to face but by reviewing and reading the transcripts of our interview and listening to their voices.
I read these transcripts as new. I heard new words and the nuances that had been buried in the rush of data collection and transcription.
As I read my journal reflections I was surprised that I had recorded detail, as writers do.
The space where we met, the size and outlook. The smell, the feel of the meeting.
I also recorded what each interview wore, how she sat and interacted with me, as I asked questions and she spoke. Sometimes words came freely and at other times, there were pauses, silences.
Collete Werden is a personal brand image expert. She believes that your success and purpose can be directed with the right outfit. Werden is about authentic self packaging. I know many women who are uncomfortable with their package. The physical self, the corporeal reality of who they are and who they long to be.
I reflected on several participants. On occasion I was aware that their outfit said practical, functional. For others it said feminine, thoughtful.
Whilst I don’t think Werden has academic research as the basis of her personal branding business, she does have living proof that the right input and encouragement can shape and transform a woman’s image, identity and self confidence.
Do women leaders in education need encouragement? Yes.
If a new dress, style of jacket or lipstick colour made a difference to a woman’s confidence, should she embrace it? Yes.
I like the idea that as women in leadership we can dress for a future moment and not be defined by our past.