• Wed, Sep 29 2010

Dispatches from An All-Female Office

Last week, many beauty and style bloggers participated in No Makeup Week, forgoing makeup and photographing themselves in the process. I was one of the bloggers who didn’t take part, however. No, it’s not because I love putting eyeliner on at 8 AM when I’m still groggy and liable to poke myself in the face by accident. It’s because I almost never wear makeup to work, which would make participating in the exercise kind of pointless. There are several reasons for this (overwhelming laziness being chief among them), but a huge factor is the fact that I work in an all-female office.

That’s right: B5 Media, the company that owns The Gloss as well as our sister sites Blisstree and Crushable, does not have a single male working in the New York office. We have between 10 and 14 women in here every day (depending on which interns are in). A lot of people like to think that a large group of women can’t work together and that cattiness and backstabbing will inevitably ensue, but that hasn’t been our experience in the least. We’re lucky enough to work in an informal, close-knit, open office. Most of us dress casually to the office – no sweatpants, but no suits. Because we spend most of our day looking at computer screens instead of meeting with clients or vendors, we only have to dress to impress each other. As a result? I come in to work barefaced 99 percent of the time.

Working in an office full of women doesn’t make me feel like I have to dress better or get skinnier. Instead, it makes me feel like no one will care if I have blotchy skin or limp hair. More likely, one of my coworkers would lend me her favorite hand lotion or concealer if I needed it. My coworkers and I talk openly about everything from our relationships to our gray hairs. Part of the reason for that comfort is because we work at a startup, where a small group of core employees worked round-the-clock to launch three sites in a period of weeks. At some point, between late nights coding and early mornings trying to get a jump on the headlines, you have to lose your vanity.

That’s not to say that everything about our office is sunshine and roses. There are definitely disagreements, but that has to do with the fact that we’re all people with opinions rather than because we’re people with vaginas. It’s also pretty entertaining to watch how people react to walking into our office. A male janitor in our building calls us “the lady office” without a hint of humor. Guests who come into the office for meetings sometimes ask why there aren’t any guys in our office and start peeking behind doors, as if we’re stashing our male employees in the coat closet. And there are also plenty of people who don’t notice, which I consider the biggest achievement of all.

Every workplace is different, and I’ve worked in enough of them to feel pretty lucky about this one. And the reason I’m talking about what it’s like here is to refute some of those old notions that women can’t work together without becoming catty bitches, or that we dress up out of some desire to make other women jealous of us. Sometimes, we just go to the office to work.

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  • Emily

    I have a happy work environment, but I wouldn’t come in without make-up and it has nothing to do with the men. It’s my supervisor. She’s 45 and fabulous. She’s in great shape, has a fantastic wardrobe and always looks put together. She’s also brilliant at her job, a wonderful mother and a great friend. Since she’s basically everything I want to be in 20 years, I wear make up everyday because she does.

    http://www.thestuckduck.blogspot.com

  • Nick

    Well, you had some guys working there for a little bit, and you did essentially stash them in the closet, or at least the smaller room.