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Women’s History Month: Leslie Perry

In honor of Women’s History Month, PBA highlights Leslie Perry, our very own Director of Membership. Leslie embodies strength, perseverance, and grace in all her endeavors. We celebrate her and the many amazing women in the beauty industry, recognizing their daily contributions.

Can you share a specific moment in your career where you faced challenges related to your gender, and how did you navigate through those obstacles?

Not a specific moment, but more of an ongoing challenge. It’s the “double bind.” The concept that as women, we need to be strong and assertive, but not TOO strong and assertive. Otherwise, we’re labeled as overbearing, a jerk, rude, mean.

When men are assertive and take charge, they’re considered strong leaders. When women are assertive and take charge, they’re considered competent leaders but disliked. On the other hand, when women are nurturing, communicative, caring – we’re liked, but considered less competent leaders.

Leslie chose this clip from the Barbie movie that cites the difficulties that come with womanhood.

Have you encountered situations where your ideas or contributions were undervalued, and how did you assert your worth in those instances?

I experienced this much more frequently when I was younger and starting my career. I’d wait my turn, express an opinion or concept and be ignored. Within the meeting, a male counterpart may have expressed the same concept and be praised.

I handle it a variety of ways. First, I assess whether it’s even worth it. If it is, I may speak up to add context to the concept presented, or say something like – it sounds like we’re in agreement. As I mentioned earlier… I also try to be aware of others not having a voice in meetings and making sure I acknowledge them, give them an opportunity to share

As a woman in a leadership role in the beauty industry, why do you think it is important to have women in these roles? How does it contribute to innovation and success?

We work in an industry dominated by women – 59% of employment-based salons are owned by women (that’s nearly three times higher than business outside of beauty) and 85% of individuals who work in personal appearance occupations are women!

Diversity in general brings such richness in thought and leads to better decision making and outcomes. Decades of studies show women leaders help increase productivity, enhance collaboration, inspire organizational dedication, and improve fairness.

In your journey, have you found mentors or role models who have supported you as a woman in the beauty industry, and how have these relationships influenced your career?

“Me ‘helping’ my mom’s client (when my mom had her salon in our house). I was probably 4-5 years old here”

My first role models – my grandmothers and my mother. All three of them were entrepreneurs – my mom as a hairdresser and salon owner, one grandmother ran the family farm business and was very involved in local politics and my other grandmother was an executive at an insurance company at a time when women in business roles were scarce. I had the luxury of growing up watching them, learning from them, working alongside them and being encouraged every single day to believe in myself, set lofty goals and work to achieve those goals.

I was also fortunate to have the ultimate “girl dad” who included me in activities that may have traditionally been seen as father/son – he taught me to throw a football and bonded with me during Monday Night Football games, he expected me to help with manual labor on the farm, he taught me to drive a stick shift (although I wasn’t very good!). Through his example, I learned that strong, confident men support strong, confident women. And I shouldn’t settle for less.

Beyond my family, I’ve been really lucky to surround myself with incredible business leaders who generously lend advice, a listening ear and the tough-love I need to be successful.

As the Professional Beauty Association, we believe in wholeheartedly supporting Women’s History Month. It’s not just about recognizing achievements; it’s a commitment to fostering an environment where the diverse talents and contributions of women in the beauty industry are celebrated and valued. Together with PBA, we’re dedicated to promoting inclusivity, empowerment, and inspiration for all women in our field.