Sorority Membership Is For a Lifetime (Except at Work)

I’m fortunate to have numerous men in my professional life that have my best interests at heart. These people have  challenged me, taken the time to offer feedback that will take me to the next level, worked with me to develop my strengths and opened many doors. I’m really lucky, because they don’t hesitate to tell me when I’m doing something that could potentially hold me back.

Almost all of them have told me to stop telling people that I am in a sorority.

To be clear, they aren’t saying this because they are men and perhaps think the notion of a sorority might be a bit silly. It’s just that women don’t usually talk about it, so no one at work knows what membership is really about. I used to take offense, but now I think they are giving good advice.

Most people regard sorority women as they are described in pop culture: ditsy, promiscuous women that spend their college years hosting naked pillow fights and engaging in racy spring break antics. I don’t want my professional reputation to be associated with that, do you? If most people associate sorority membership with what I described above, then it is probably best not to mention it at work.

Sadly, popular perception could not be further from the truth. Sorority women are continuing the lifetime pursuit of nobler womanhood while making the world a better place for those who follow.

We have cleared the path for women to pursue higher education and to vote. We are curing cancer, creating awareness, legislating, and educating. We are business leaders, designers, and philanthropists. We are making the world a better place.

We have a huge PR problem on our hands, ladies. Ironic, yes, given that the PR field is so heavily composed of smart sorority women. We have no one to blame but ourselves. We don’t take the opportunities to stand up and tell our story. We need to make sorority membership the badge of honor that it is intended to be.

Sorority membership should allow us to gain additional respect from our peers. Let’s do Bettie Locke justice and tell our story.

Photo Credit: GVgreeks

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Comments

  1. Love that you wrote this. I know myself I am very proud to be a Phi Mu. What I hope as I continue to establish myself in my career and online, that I can give back to the organization. If I can share skills and life lessons, perhaps these women can continue to be leaders in their communities instead of party girls. There’s nothing bad in having fun, but as you said, the world doesn’t see all the good that’s there.

    • Thanks, Emily! I loved your post as well. I think that your comment really captures what membership should be about. We were founded upon the ability to support and learn from each other and pass that knowledge on to the next group of women. That is exactly what Bettie Locke had in mind when she founded Kappa Alpha Theta, and I’m sure that is also what your Phi Mu founders set out to.

      The way that you are building and managing your career online is of particular importance to the next generation of women, especially the current group of collegians. They are lucky to have you to look up to!

  2. Danielle says:

    Being in a sorority isn’t the first thing I mention about myself, but it certainly isn’t a secret. I was an involved member (heck, I was President). I am STILL an involved member. And I do not hide that. Being a DG is who I am.

    I wouldn’t call myself one of those stereotypical ‘sorority girls’, but in reality, I am the typical sorority girl. And I like proving that to people.

    Go Greek!

  3. As one of the men who have told you to stop telling people that you are in a sorority, I agree. 🙂

    You mentioned that it is a branding challenge, and I agree. The cultural dynamic is such that it’s perfectly acceptable to make fun of the sorority girl/frat boy. While yes, many sorority women have gone on to do great things, there are a whole lot of people who have accomplished a great deal without ever going Greek. It’s pretty hard to make the argument against pop-culture when the seminal work on Greek life is “Animal House”.

    I believe that a greater amount of participation amongst alums would be the key to turning this around. As it stands now, most people consider it a part of college and “leave it behind” once graduated. If you had a more active alumni network that was using that network to bolster both career and personal goals, I’d think that you’d lose much of the stigma.

    • I used to get so angry when you would tell me to stop mentioning it and then I realized that it is my job (and the job of other greeks) to make sure that our story is being told and change the perceptions out there.

      To your point, sure, you can certainly accomplish many wonderful things without being greek. However, the greek experience is an infrastructure where one can develop and expand upon the tools necessary to be successful. Here are a few examples that directly apply to the business world: time management, confrontation, conflict resolutions, recruitment (of membership, talent), marketing, brand management, PR, etc).

      How perceptive of you to suggest that alumni participation could help to turn around the negative perception of greek life. I completely agree. I think we often talk about alumnae engagement in terms of organizational sustainability and adding value to our membership, but not necessarily in how it could be used to promote a more positive (accurate) image of what our organization does. I’m going to run with this!

  4. This is a wonderful article. I quietly show my membership in the workplace by wearing my badge, but do not discuss it, unless asked what the pin is for. Kappa Alpha Theta is an amazing organization that I am proud to be a part of and truly believe my membership is for a lifetime!

    • Thanks, Sarabeth! I’m proud to have you as my sister in Kappa Alpha Theta. Perhaps I should also start wearing my badge to meetings. If I were to attend a business meeting notice a woman wearing a Theta badge (or any sorority badge), I would be very excited!

  5. One of my Kappa Alpha Theta sisters and one of our newly elected grand council members shared a post with me about what being Greek means to her: http://ironic-pastiche.blogspot.com/2007/08/its-not-about-money-its-about.html

  6. I have a post on something similar to this that I did not finish and post, but you’ve motivated me to do so.

    I think a few things: 1) Women should and can talk about their experiences with sororities; but when they do so, it would help if WE (the women) helped change the ideology behind the pop culture by talking about the positives that are associated with being Greek. For example, keeping a certain GPA, the political aspects and learning we recieved from Greek Life, etc. 2) I also believe people review things differently based on where they are at in the US. Example: In South FL, it is well known that Greek Life is the only way to get involved on campus at UF, FSU, etc. Hence, in South FL, it is accepted and usually even asked about / talked about in interviews.

    I know that being a Leader in my sorority helped me get to where I’m at today. I mean, if one can manage 200 WOMEN effectively, that’s got to say something, right?

    • Jamie, thanks for the comment. I totally agree. We can’t blame others for their perceptions when we aren’t talking about it and setting the record straight.

      Your point about geography is quite important. The influence and perception of Greek life varies considerably from region to region. In the Northeast/Mid-Atlantic, it doesn’t carry the weight or understanding that it does in the south. Just think about our chapters in Canada where Greek Life is even less prevalent and a more recent addition to campuses.

      I can relate to your experience making you a better leader. For me, I learned a ton about my strengths, weaknesses and tendencies that still exist in my career today.

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