Taking a Stance Could Literally Empower Women

ByCrystal Lewis

Much has been written about the importance of body language in all types of social situations from job interviews to dating. But it turns out that how you stand or tilt your head affects more than other people’s opinions of you — it affects your confidence as well.

Harvard Business School Professor Amy Cuddy found in her studies that certain “high power poses” grant people more confidence. Stances that open up the torso — in which a person’s legs are firmly apart from one another and hands are placed on their hips, much like Wonder Woman’s famous pose — increase testosterone. This inhibits cortisol, a hormone that affects stress level, thus allowing the person standing tall not only to look confident in front of others, but to actually feel confident as well. “Low power poses,” which includes folding your arms and tilting your chin downward makes you appear closed off and vulnerable. By assuming power poses, faking confidence will eventually turn into real confidence.

This study is particularly advantageous for women in the workplace. Men tend to naturally overshadow women, both in terms of numbers and their physical presence, so standing with pride is especially critical for women who want to move up the corporate ladder.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should show up at a job interview with your arms raised as though you’ve just won a gold medal or awkwardly strike a Wonder Woman pose even after the person interviewing you tells you to sit down, as this will most likely result in your résumé earning a ‘crazy’ stamp. But doing a few warm-up exercises beforehand might help

Cuddy discovered through a series of fake job interviews held in 2012 that people who assumed high power poses minutes prior to the interview earned more points with the judges who watched them on videotape, and were more likely to be hired than those who stood in more timid poses. 

But there are other ways in which dominant poses could help women. The media is full of images in which women are shown on their backs, or without faces, completely objectified. Even seemingly innocuous images of women kicking up one leg or standing on an angle serve to disempower women. It is always essential to remember that media reflect society, so if the women in advertisements are vulnerable, and that submissiveness is depicted as 'attractive,' then women in real life should be submissive as well. 

So, ladies, take a stand, and you’ll help counter this image of the passive woman. Who knows? Maybe that newfound confidence will land you a job in advertising where you can take pictures of women standing proud instead of in a pool of beer bottle tops.