|(Emma donning office-appropriate, mint-green pants!)|
I haven’t felt this much pride in being a woman since reading the works of bell hooks (nee Gloria Watkins) and Gloria Steinem as a loner in high school. I am so utterly impressed with the outspokenness of my colleague at Plastic Surgery Studios, and now very much my friend, Emma Still. Although she's only been blogging for about three months, this bright-eyed, 23 year-old, New York-native has managed to gain industry attention for her recent blog post,“If I Were an SEO Dude.”
In this article, Emma tastefully and humorously writes about her experience working in the male-dominated industry of Internet marketing. “Tastefully” because she doesn’t put anyone down, and “humorously” because she makes light of it all, while still acknowledging that she is in the minority. For instance, check out the intro to her article:
“Warning: the following are sweeping generalizations, only mildly offensive, and likely inaccurate stereotypes based purely on my observations. Feel free to dispute or harass me in the comments below. I’ll take it like a man.”
I love it.
So when she told me about the attention this article was getting from some of the most well-respected professionals in the SEO industry, it was only fitting that she and I have some dinner, have a cocktail, and discuss the whole concept and origin of “If I Were an SEO Dude.” This was also the perfect time for me, a fashion journalist, to ask this corporate professional about her thoughts regarding women and fashion in the workplace. Emma’s style is always put-together and tailored, so I know she values the importance of maintaining a positive image the corporate world. But I’ll get to the fashion thing in just a sec…I wanna tell you about Emma’s story behind the story!
The idea behind “If I Were an SEO Dude” all started with Twitter. After Emma eventually “fell in love with Twitter,” she spent hours on this social networking site. “I spent a lot of time observing [on Twitter], reading conversation threads, finding articles, and just staying on top of everything. In doing so, I couldn’t help but notice that the SEO world is all…dudes!” says Emma, before acknowledging a survey that SEOmoz put out last year, which reported that the industry was 77 percent male. “I’m like the one, young girly-girl in SEO…And it’s kind of awkward.”
But, she says, “I like it because there are a bunch of dudes around, and they’re all smart, and they like the same stuff I do. So it’s cool to participate in the conversations.”
And then after one “super-active day on Twitter,” she had a hard time sleeping that evening. Before she knew it, 1 a.m. hit, and she woke up knowing it was time to write. “I had to get it all down,” she says. And although the topic developed naturally and flowed easily, it wasn’t published right away. She waited about a week to post it, due to the social media sphere swarming with Hurricane Sandy and Halloween news, updates, and tweets (didn’t want her article to get buried). She also waited out of slight apprehension. Emma, who I consider a straight-shooter kind of chick, didn’t want to offend anyone and wasn’t sure how it would be perceived (“I wasn’t doing it for some kind of attention or some kind of ego-bait…”) But going with her gut, truly believing that others would find this blog post interesting, she scheduled it to go live on November 1, 2012 at 7:30 a.m. It took one tweet from Emma, and the rest is history. No backlash from anyone -- only high-fives, tweet mentions, and publicity from dudes in the industry. She’s looking forward to moving on and writing more pieces to share with her peers. “You can’t let a good idea get lonely," she says.
And when it comes to going for it, Emma always goes for it when it comes to fashion. (See how I’m bringing the fashion back into it all?) She’s appropriate, professional, and still feminine. I actually remember seeing her come in for her interview at Plastic Surgery Studios months ago, wearing a gray skirt suit and the best accessory of all: an awesome smile. I knew there was some cool spark about her! Her confidence was impressive, and we eventually bonded over our disgusting obsession for reality TV and for amazing fashion.
So towards the end of our delish meal at Cheesecake Factory and yummy mojitos, she addressed my fashion questions. Check ‘em out:
Me: What is the best thing for a woman to wear when she’s leading a meeting?
Emma: My go-to outfit for work would be a black pencil skirt, a black top, and some sort of colorful sweater, with some kind of statement jewelry or statement shoe. Or, just a plain dress jazzed up with something else. You want to be attractive and look like you care about yourself, and not be distracting. You want to show that you care about what you’re actually talking about, not just showing the awesome outfit you picked out that morning.
Me: How can a woman avoid appearing smutty in an office environment?
Emma: I think a lot of it is what you put out there. It’s the way you’re walking in the heels you put on that morning…the way you’re bending over in that dress.
Me: What about when it comes to women who are plus-size and want to be remain fashionable and appropriate in the work environment?
Emma: I think it’s safe wearing black. And if you can find an awesome A-line dress that cinches your waist in, that isn’t too tight, that’s great. Wearing a nice sweater, cute flats, chunky bracelets…all great pieces.
Me: How important should fashion be to a woman who works in a male-dominated industry?
Emma: There’s a fine balance. You have to be conscious of who your audience is…And my audience is all males. There’s a fine line between flaunting that and just embracing being a girl, and feeling comfortable being a girl in that world.
Me: Are there any women in the SEO industry that inspire your sense of style?
Emma: Yes! Joanna Lord (SEOmoz) and Mackenzie Fogelson (MACK Web Solutions). Both of these women are strong, beautiful, and professional.
To connect with Emma, you can find her on Twitter (@mmstll) or blogging away on her website. And (drumroll please)...a BIG Happy Birthday to Emma “If I Were an SEO Dude” Still!