3 Taboos for Women in Business

Times have changed, and so have the taboos for women in business.  At one point, women were expected to act tough and wear power suits, and any mention of femininity was taboo.  Today, however, things are quite different.


Taboos for women in business, The Sherwood Group, Graphic Design and Website Design

People realize that women don’t have to start acting like men to be successful at what they do.  Plus, it’s good to make time for our families because this is eventually going to be a big source of our happiness.  So it’s no longer taboo to leave work early because you have to take your kids to the game.  Still, there are certain behaviors that are best avoided:

Overly revealing attire.

It’s fine to dress the way you want when you’re going out with friends or family.  But it’s probably best to maintain a level of professionalism when you dress for work.  Dressing in a very revealing manner might mean that you don’t get taken very seriously in the business world.  People might assume, often mistakenly, that your aim is to snag a man rather than succeed at what you do.  Of course, there’s no point in rushing to the other extreme either and dressing like a nun.  Try to take inspiration from women who have made a name for themselves as fashion icons, such as Audrey Hepburn, Princess Diana and Jackie O.  When you’re with friends or with your significant other, you can let your inner Marilyn Monroe or Madonna emerge!

Badmouthing women who are your competitors.

You could generally say that this is a taboo for men as well as women.  You shouldn’t badmouth your competitors.  Instead, try to be better than them.  For women, though, it’s possible to come across as “catty” or jealous when you criticize other women in your workplace or in your field of work.  This cattiness is probably what results in the popularity of shows like “America’s Next Top Model.”  However, you’ll note that the models who keep to themselves and don’t get involved in criticizing others are often the ones who win the contest.

Favoring one sex over the other in the workplace.

You need to be fair with your workers, whether they are men or women.  If you seem to work better with men, the women will notice it and hold it against  you.  If you seem to work better with women, the men won’t have as much reason to work with you.  So make sure that you don’t appear to favor one sex over the other.  Try to be fair and evaluate your workers  on the basis of the work they do.  When giving out promotions and even when you sit down to get ideas from your workers, maintain a neutral attitude.

Contact us to learn more about the dos and don’ts for women in the workplace.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also want to check out these others:

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This article is published by Will Sherwood | The Sherwood Group |Website Design | Graphic Design | Marketing Communications: The Sherwood Group has over 30 years of experience working with all sorts of companies, small and large. Our clients range from entrepreneurs to Fortune 500 firms, in nearly every business sector, from across the street to around the world (and yes, even Europe, China, and South America). Our goal is to create advertising,  graphic design, website design, and marketing communication that still looks fresh and relevant 10-15 years later. Our mission is to stir your imagination and leave your competition shaken and wondering,  Now what do we do?”  We are located in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

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Please comment. We’d like to know if you found this article informative or helpful?


  • By Kellie West 14 Oct 2014

    The three taboos mentioned in the article are just as taboo for men as well. I don’t think the article addresses what many women experience in business, whether as a result of office atmosphere or their perception of what is appropriate behavior. Simply demanding the same treatment as a male counter part is fraught with danger in many offices.

  • By Carolyn E. Johnson 14 Oct 2014

    That first taboo resonates with me, I have seen strapless dresses, halter tops, sandals, no hosiery etc. As a professional from the east coast where suits are the uniform of the day to moving to the west coast where flip flops are the uniform its very distracting to me. When I here women say they are not being taken seriously I see the way the dress is the number one thing(judging the book by the cover). When you dress for the occasion(Business, Travel or working out) it affects my attitude. You want to be taken seriously dress like you do.

  • By Melissa 15 Oct 2014

    I believe the 3 items you listed are just common business sense.

    What I want to know is how NOT to be called a b**ch vs. men in the same business situations. I think this has always been a huge problem for all smart and successful women in business. This is way it’s always been and I don’t think that will ever change.

  • By Laurie Shafer 15 Oct 2014

    Great photo! Although when it comes to favoritism, I’m reminded of the good ole boys club…

  • By Helga 17 Oct 2014

    Interesting discussion. I think taboos in business and in general are for both – men and women – the same. This also is valid for the 3 taboos mentioned. We all are humans.

  • By Amy Schmidt 17 Oct 2014

    On the topic of taboos- I think the sleeping around, dress code and other issues mentioned here are somewhat obvious and will be harmful for both genders. Men may not dress to “sexy” but also need step it up a bit above the golf shirts.

    The biggest differential I see is the balance of work and personal lives. I do think more women still keep more hours running a household working full time compared to men. The women are more often still grocery shopping, cooking more meals, and driving kids to and from activities. I appreciate that men also do this, but I think it is weighted heavier on females to care for the family. I find this in turn means more women take work home to compete projects, but it looks like women put in less hours at the workplace in order to attend a child’s recital.

    As a CEO I find it important to look at quality of work, and completion of tasks and deadlines- not always hour many hours were clocked at the office building.

  • By Jessica King 21 Oct 2014

    All very true. Do you think it’s still occasionally seen as ‘unfeminine’ for a woman to be highly competitive, and not afraid to show it? Or to be comfortable giving orders and enjoying control. Cordelia Fine’s ‘The Real Science Behind Sex Differences: Delusions of Gender’ has some interesting insights on this topic.

    See my blogpost jessking1311.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/do-we-still-need-feminism-in-the-workplace/ for a humorous take

  • By Pamela Carson 29 Oct 2014

    Interesting Read…article has good points that should be common sense but for many individuals finding the balance to effectively apply these concepts can be hard for some while others simply do not how to apply these concepts to their daily affairs

  • By Fred Barson 09 Nov 2014

    I think the greatest taboo — and it’s not universal, not clearly stated, not practiced everywhere — is to let women be themselves, that is to be women. A lot of what this and other similar discussions concern is what women are encouraged or allowed to do. I am far more interested in how women do what they do. How different, and how valuably different, it is. For instance, we could say women approach their work with emotion, but so do men; it’s just that women seem to own their emotion; in a strange way it seems to me at times that women do not merely have an emotion but are the emotion they have. The emotion is vital to who they are as individuals. I believe all of us have a lot to learn from women in this area.

  • By Guillermo Carretero 10 Nov 2014

    I had listen many times I have many friends jews , or some gays or black men/women
    Lets do this simple Ask the women How they really feel and all of you will be shock by a real surprise . Century 21 , believe me or read it or ask it . When you drive You never heard, Hey !! go to the kitchen!! Or when there is a problem in a company about abuses isnt it that 85 % are over the women.In the Us army 160 years of the declaration of human rights there were not women in combat or high officers.Also this happens with black People only tell me are you white father happy if your doughter brings you a boy friend black? Or you man open and cerebral are you happy to recieve orders of a woman and dont tell me stories , look in your hards . Until the 20 !!!!!!! century women could not vote !!

    In the USA until 1960 you could kill yuour loving woman without going to jail if you find her with an other man in your house, I can give you thosernds of xamples.. but its not necesary. I am a man hetero but I am feminist. and I am not shame of say it.

  • By ปั้มไลค์ 28 May 2020

    Like!! Really appreciate you sharing this blog post.Really thank you! Keep writing.