Lindsey, Equity Research Associate
Lindsey is an equity investment research associate and the woman behind @msyoungprofessional - the hilariously brave comedy blog disrupting the traditional meaning behind what it takes to be a “successful professional woman” by poking fun at all the extra obstacles women face both inside and outside the office.
Tell us about @msyoungprofessional and how you came up with the idea.
@msyoungprofessional is a non-self-deprecating women’s comedy blog focused on the everyday frustrations females face in trying to navigate the corporate world. I got the idea about 8 months into my first finance job after I fully realized the extent of the crazy amount of extra effort I have to put into my work because of my gender. This extra effort spans from seemingly simple tasks like getting dressed in the morning (achieving that perfect balance of femininity with authority), to effective communication (how to express your ideas/comments/concerns while also maintaining your likability), to the very very serious subject of workplace harassment, where often a woman’s only real option is to leave quietly out of fear of retaliation, after taking into account how her actions post-harassment will impact her future career opportunities. Basically, I want more people to become aware of this gender bias and how it intermingles within workplace culture to form a complex social construct that not only disproportionately affects women, but one that seriously wastes time and leads to missed opportunity. I created @msyoungprofessional because I wanted to use humor to shine a light onto how this construct really affects us, and to normalize a topic that many women are still terrified to talk about out of fear of “damaging” their professional image.
Let's Talk Business
Tell us about your job and your background.
I’m an equity research associate and I spend my days researching public companies and helping the people who manage our investments pick stocks to go into their portfolios. It’s a lot of reading (LOVE this part!), writing (LOVE this part!), meeting executives and other influential people (LOVE this part!) and also a lot of messing around in excel (necessary part). It also involves a lot of being nice to people who talk down to me, expressing serious concerns and opinions I have while also acting unsure of myself, and figuring out the nicest way possible to point out errors I’ve found in other people’s work. Point being, I spend probably equal amounts of time maintaining my likability as I do on my actual work, something a lot of women have to do that they don’t get credit for, and something that is (in my opinion) a huge waste of time. I just truly love research, and it pains me knowing how much better my quality of work and work-life balance would be if I were subject to the same standards as my male peers who don’t have to worry about looking like a b**** all the time.
Anyway, I’ve been working in finance for about a year. Before finance, I was a geologist/geophysicist in both environmental protection and the oil and gas industries. I have 3 degrees, I’ve taught an undergraduate geology course and I’ve co-authored two peer reviewed publications on local climate change. Research is truly core to my being, but I’m also creative and have had an interest in fashion ever since I realized how much it dictated my perception as a woman (so let’s say… since age 4). In fact, while getting my undergrad and first masters degree I spent quite a bit of time blogging and working as a freelance model. I had some “success” as a model (won’t say how because I’m running my blog semi-anonymously) but mostly it was a ton of fun and I got to meet a lot of inspiring and creative people. I “retired” from freelance modeling at 25 to put all my effort into some of my more practical career aspirations, and also because (at the time) 25 was still considered ancient for an aspiring fashion model (it was 2015).
What advice would you give to someone wanting to do the same job?
Seek out female mentors - especially if you work in a male-dominated field. Advice from a female mentor is invaluable as there is an entire separate suite of career challenges that will come along solely because of your gender. If you’re ever in trouble, female mentors will be key in bridging your network and seeking out new opportunities in an environment most conducive to your growth.
What is one book you'd suggest people read?
“Beauty Myth” by Naomi Wolf is something every woman should read. It explains how “beauty” works against women, and how caring about the way you look isn’t some personal vanity flaw but a perfectly logical reaction to growing up in a society that places 90% of a woman’s value in the way she looks. If you’ve ever struggled with body image this is the read for you!
How would you describe your business style?
I’d have to describe my business style as “neutral-tone, professional comfy chic”. I.E. clothes that are acceptable for me to wear to work that will keep me warm and generally not make me want to die after being at a desk for 11 hours. Neutral-tone because neutrals typically fare better through evolving trends and fashion cycles, and also people are less likely to notice me licking Cheeto dust off my fingertips at my desk if I also blend into the walls of my cubicle.
What advice would you give those dressing for a new job?
There’s a reason getting dressed for work can feel impossible, and that’s because for the most part it is impossible. It’s impossible to find that perfect balance of authoritative femininity, the look that communicates “I’m a woman” and “please take me seriously” as there is a fine line between being who we are, who we’re expected to be and commanding a level of respect freely given to our male peers that we dance every single morning while getting dressed for work.
So go buy something comfortable that makes you feel confident. Look to the highest-up female in your office for workplace style inspiration. Do your best. But do all of this knowing that there is really no right way to dress for a job when the problem lies not in the dress but in the unconscious and asymmetric expectations placed upon us the moment we walk in the door.
What trends do you like to wear in the corporate fashion space?
My favorite trend in the corporate fashion space right now has to be the high-waisted, sash-tie trouser because it’s the closest thing to sweatpants I can get away with wearing at work. 10/10 great pants for days where you’re going to have a big lunch, for thwarting gazes from your backside or for hiding an unplanned pregnancy from an employer who would use it as a reason to not give you the promotion you’ve worked so hard for!
You can find Lindsey on Instagram @msyoungprofessional. If you have enjoyed this interview, let us know by leaving a comment down below!