Black or pastel?

Heels or sling backs?

Pants or skirt?

I never thought these decisions would particularly affect my future, but according to the MBNA Career Center, they may considerably cause detriment not only to my chances for employment, but also to my credibility as a woman.

I’ve tried to avoid the hysteria as long as possible, but it’s hopeless. I’m scared. I’m alarmed at the idea of leaving Georgetown University, gulp, unemployed.

Over the past few months, the economy hasn’t experienced the prosperity it did when my class first came to the Hilltop, when every senior was running around with multiple job offers and signing bonuses larger than an average annual salary. The current problems at hand have increased the competition in an already more or less cutthroat setting. I’m already worried enough about what font to use on my resume, not to mention stressed over whether “performed” or “executed” sounds more hirable.

All of the above explains why I recently registered on the Internet for the Career Fair to be held here at Georgetown on Oct. 25 in the Leavey Center. Among the numerous sections of the Web site I stumbled upon something that caught my eye in one entitled “what to wear.”

It reads: “In a recent study, 90 percent of college recruiters agreed pants suits for women are acceptable.”

OK. That’s cool.

“Unfortunately, a small percentage of employers strongly disagreed.”


It gets better.

“Employers feel that skirts give a female credibility.”

It gets even better, when the Career Center advises, “It is important to weigh the options of your choice to work for an employer of industry that has a strong opinion either way.”

Could they seriously have posted this on the Internet for thousands to read? At first it sounded absolutely absurd to me. But then I wondered, are they blowing this out of proportion or are they actually right?

I hardly thought that the skirt vs. pants decision could rank so highly among the choices involved in attending the career fair. Could a single fashion faux pas erase my entire academic history and work experience and convince an employer not to hire me, all before I even open my mouth? Is it worth it to take the chance to be comfortable while risking that the recruiter for my dream job will find me absolutely incredulous simply based on the style of my suit? If I wear pants, will I also have to try 10 percent harder to impress these people to overcome the fact that they might not be the “right” color?

If employers claim not to hire based on looks or appearance, why are such miniscule details about business attire so crucial? This event hardly seems worthy of a fashion show – no more than an average Saturday night out in Georgetown.

With the significant increase in women entering the workforce over the past few decades, it makes sense to me that an overwhelming majority found pants “acceptable.” But just acceptable? Are they really only adequate or satisfactory?

After all of the accomplishments women have made and after all of the obstacles they have overcome in the business world, it is just plain unfortunate that something so seemingly trivial as this is still standing in their way.

Not that men don’t have any concerns in choosing their ensemble, but does their choice of shirt and tie prints have the potential to jeopardize the impression they give to employers the same way as women? Unless we’re talking about plaids and polka dots, I think not.

So are they right? I’m not sure. I hope not, because I recently bought a skirt that is not a dark color, i.e. black, navy or charcoal gray. But when I walk into Career Fair Wednesday, you can be sure I will be wearing a skirt, and you can be just as sure it will be black, navy or charcoal gray. I guess I’m not ready to gamble on my future.

Oh, and please: Go light on the perfume and don’t forget breath mints.

Meredith McCloskey is a senior in the McDonough School of Business and the associate editor of The Hoya.

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