Is Corporate America ready for the smart & sexy bizgal?

Twenty years ago, women were just beginning to navigate the protocols and politics of the corporate office, not to mention the anxieties and insecurities of their male colleagues. For some women, that meant downplaying their ideas and intelligence so as not to “rock the boat.”

Today women make up 60% of the American workforce and Gen Y career gals are leading the way. “They’re confident, smart and not afraid to show it,” says Dr. Christine Whelan, author of the forthcoming book, Generation WTF: From “What the #%&$?” to a Wise, Tenacious, and Fearless You. “They know that men will be attracted to them for their smarts—and their sexiness—and that they can bring these skills into the work world, too.”

Take a look at many of our modern day power girls (i.e. Google VP Marissa Mayer, Georgetown Cupcake sisters Katherine Kallinis and Sophie LaMontagne, rocket scientist and mathematician Olympia LePoint, Wall Street analyst Meredith Whitney, or First Lady Michelle Obama, to name a few) and you’ll find they personify an amazing combination of feminine traits: they’re collaborative, committed, entrepreneurial, sophisticated and savvy. And chances are good they’ve got a gorgeous pair of heels to match.

Being a professionally smart and sexy woman doesn’t mean revealing it all, but proudly owning it all. “It’s the actions of this generation that will crystallize the gender equality movement that’s been underway for decades,” Dr. Whelan explains. And as her research shows, it’s better for everyone when smart women embrace their intelligence, acknowledge their achievements and carry their sexy selves with confidence.

So what’s the best way to strut your bizGal stuff (without alienating yourself or being a braggart)? Act like a professional. “Show up on time and professionally dressed for work,” advises Dr. Whelan. “Put in an honest day’s work (limit that Facebook IMing to your lunch break) and be solution-oriented. Show you are a self-starter. The work world isn’t all about what others can do for you. It’s about showing your value to the organization.”

Generation WTF comes hits the bookshelves in February. But Dr. Whelan offers a sneak preview with this final bit of advice: “It’s OK to admit when you are wrong, especially in the workplace.” Turns out having the inner strength and confidence to own up to your actions makes you a great leader. What could be smarter (or sexier) than that?

bizMe interviewed one very smart and sexy Gen Y bizgal, Danica McKellar, who definitely sports the combo of moxie and power heels—don’t miss our chat with Danica!

Dr. Whelan is a visiting professor of sociology at the University of Pittsburgh. Visit her at www.christinewhelan.com.

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