I recently saw this video, which was originally posted on TED:
To sum up the key points of the video:
• We women are lucky; we don’t live in the world of grandmothers where career choices were limited.
• We have a problem: Women are not making it to the top of a profession anywhere in the world.
• Women face a choice: Professional Success vs. Personal Fulfillment (in the home)
• How do we change the numbers at the top how do we make this different? Here are some messages to tell women who choose to work:
1. Sit at the table
Women underestimate their own abilities.
Women do not negotiate for themselves in the workplace.
Men attribute success to themselves, and women to the external factors. The attitude of “I’m awesome” vs. “ Well, someone helped me.”
No one gets to the corner office by sitting on the side.
2. Make your partner a real partner
If a woman and a man both work outside the home and have a child, the woman does twice the amount of house work and three times the amount of child raising.
We put more pressure on men to succeed than women.
We have to make it important job to stay home.
Couples who have equal responsibility in work and home have a lower divorce rate.
3. Don’t leave before you leave.
Don’t plan extra time for yourself that you think you’re going to need for a family before you’re at that stage yet.
I thought this video made some very good points. The funniest part is that the story she told about the man who didn’t know where the women’s bathroom was, actually happened to me a few days after I watched the video! I was in my office and a man from a different office in the building- who had moved in less than a year ago, but more than 6 months ago- came knocking on our door and asked where the women’s bathroom was. I had just seen this video, so of course the first thing that came into my head was, “Are you telling me that you have never had a woman in your office before?”
One point that I had never thought about before but I think is very upsettingly true: “Success and likability are positively correlated for men and negatively correlated for women.” In my previous post about feminism, I wrote about some of the problems that feminism caused. This is one of them. The character traits that a person needs to be successful in their career- confidence, aggression, outspoken- are not necessarily qualities that people like in women. Women should not have to choose between being liked and being successful in their career.
Another thing that jumped out at me was the point she made about women having low self-esteem/not being confident enough, while men develop big egos if they do something right. While this is obviously not true of all women and all men, I also think that there are pros and cons to everything. The attitude of "I'm awesome" has the potential to lead to arrogance or looking down on others. Confidence is a positive trait, but arrogance is a negative one. Having a low self-image is bad, but recognizing and appreciating others who helped you is great. Her point was that women need to change in order to be successful, but I’m not sure that I would draw the same conclusion.
Both these two points- that women have to choose between being liked and being successful, and that women lack confidence in the work place- come down to the fact that characteristics that are natural to women do not work well in the work place. Instead of trying to change women, perhaps we need to change the nature of the work place. Both of those seem equally difficult. Perhaps we need to tailor the workplace so that the women’s characteristics are used in a positive way. Men and women each have qualities that come naturally to them, and those have the potential to be used in a positive or a negative way. Instead of women trying to be men to be successful, women need to figure out how to be successful using the traits that they have.
Anyway those were some of my thoughts on the video- what did you think?