We’re Getting Everything Wrong About Women And Work

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I really struggle with being a supporter of women and women in the workplace and thinking that having a vagina is no real reason to have special pow wows. 

I recently got an invite for a firm sponsored women’s event called “how to control your emotions in the workplace”, and I laughed hysterically at the title. Do we really need to be coaching adults on how to handle their emotions? In my opinion, that session should have lasted 5 seconds. “Don’t cry at work”. Is a one hour webcast going to prevent us from getting our periods? Because I’m pretty sure that’s what causes the emotional issues anyway. Not an overwhelming emotional attachment to our work. I didn’t go to the session to find out what insightful advice they had to give – I was probably in the office doing my work and waiting until 6pm to cry as a grown woman should.

I do believe that certain innate characteristics of our sex present challenges in the workplace when compared to our male counterparts. We are not as good at selling ourselves and our accomplishments, and we don’t typically negotiate pay as successfully. I do think women’s events to address these types of issues are helpful. Advice like brag about how awesome you are in your performance reviews and don’t worry about coming across cocky. Your male colleagues will do this, so if you don’t want to make 70 cents on the dollar then get over yourself and do it. Helpful.

I’m all for supporting women, and I’m an advocate for targeted coaching for our demographic, but I’m really only interested in the stuff that’s actionable, realistic, and going to help me progress through my career and make more money, not attempt to control my anatomy.

I also think the over-focus on supporting women in the workplace allows some people to go too far in the other direction. It’s not cool when women go to the mommy room multiple hours of the day and no one can say anything negative about it for fear of HR backlash. Come on mommies. You’re definitely not pumping that whole time – your tits would fall off. 

I’m not saying don’t be a mom. I’m just saying you should get paid for your work and if a new mom can’t work as hard as someone who doesn’t have a young child then they shouldn’t get paid as much. It’s pretty freakin simple. Go to the mommy room as much as you damn please, but then make up the time. I guess this isn’t just limited to moms in my mind. If your religion requires you to pray ten times a day, cool. That’s awesome. But then make up that time or at least just make sure all of your work gets done. But anyway…back to the woman thing.

A recent article I read included the so-called “sobering” statistic that women make up almost half of the US labor force, but they only account for 14% percent of Fortune 500 executive officers and 3% of their CEOs. Apparently I am supposed to find that surprising or upsetting. 

I find it 0% surprising and only 10% upsetting. 

I wonder if you surveyed all the 18-22 year olds who are just entering the national labor force how many males and how many females would say they have a desire to be CEO of a fortune 500 company one day. I bet a lot of money (not that I have much – can I blame being a woman for this now when it’s convenient?) that far more men than woman would say they have an interest in becoming a CEO. Some women still want to be a homemaker, and that’s okay. Perhaps more women than men want to go into healthcare or education instead of business. That’s okay too. Get ready for this anti-feminist belief…men and women may have different talents and interests. 

What if, on average, men are better at business and running companies? I’m fine with that notion. There are things they suck at too (like spelling or organization or remembering birthdays…on average). There’s also the minor detail that as much as parenting has become more evenly distributed between parents, the woman still has to carry and push out that child which at a minimum delays our career trajectory. All I’m saying is that the numbers may tell a misleading story. There are certain drivers of those statistics that have to be considered before we women have a full on woe is me moment.

Of course, we should still be supporting the women who do have aspirations to be business leaders, especially if they are experiencing prejudice or discrimination. I just don’t think we need to get all up in arms about a bunch of boring energy companies not being run by women in equal proportion to men. We’ve got to save that energy to yell at our men when they forget our birthday. Just don’t forget…wait until you get home to cry about it. TC mark

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