Women make up nearly half the U.S. workforce now. And yet, in the past week, I’ve encountered three instances of men instructing women on how to fit in, succeed, and avoid distracting menfolk at the office.
The New York State Bar Association will hold its Annual Meeting next week. The Committee on Women in the Law is sponsoring a program called “Weathering Tough Times: Strategic Planning for Your Practice.”
“What’s Our Problem? Current Issues Facing Women” will be followed by a panel entitled, “Their Point of View: Tips From the Other Side” in which
[a] distinguished panel of gentlemen from the legal field will discuss the strengths and weaknesses of women in the areas of communication, negotiation, mediation, arbitration, organization, and women’s overall management of their legal work.
Say what? A little bit of outrage ensued, and the NYSBA responded by adding a few ladylawyers to the panel and issuing a passive aggressive statement that reads, “Unfortunately, the important objectives of this panel have been overshadowed by issues raised as to the topic description and the composition of the panel.” Yes, it’s too bad your own sexist stupidity got in the way of your stupid, sexist objectives.
Men’s way is considered the natural way, and women are taught to accommodate men and adapt to environments that are considered “theirs” – not just in manners of communication, negotiation, mediation, etc., but in our wardrobes. Friday on the Today Show, Author Shaunti Feldhahn discussed the findings of a seven year (!) study she conducted on the effect of women’s tits on work environments. Donny Deutsch was invited to weigh in, presumably to lend some credibility to this lady’s claim. In sum, men are easily distracted by your sexy body, so choose your outfits carefully. You don’t want your business to fail because Tom, Dick and Harry couldn’t focus on their jobs, do you? BUT, don’t dress like a man either. By the way, you know what I find distracting in the workplace? Dickswinging.
Which brings us to my final story. Some dude named Clay Shirky wrote a “rant” regarding women’s failure to do just that. His premise is that women do not get the recognition, promotions, or compensation they deserve in the workplace because “not enough women have what it takes to behave like arrogant self-aggrandizing jerks.” Shirky encourages women to be more arrogant and to become better at misrepresenting their skills to get ahead. It’s true that women tend to underestimate their intelligence whilst men overestimate theirs, but I’d rather see men get some humility and women get some confidence than be stuck in a sea of pompous assholes. Shirky does acknowledge women’s fear of being penalized for “acting like men,” but he dismisses it, insisting that women must take risks in order to reap career rewards.
The main thought I have about all this is this: It’s about time we stopped treating men as the Default Worker. They can start adapting to our environment now. Although, women have outnumbered men in the world for a while, and men still make The Rules, so I won’t hold my breath.