Portfolio magazine: Sexism in the workplace

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500_Apples
Portfolio magazine: Sexism in the workplace

 

500_Apples

[url=http://www.portfolio.com/executives/features/2008/03/17/Sexism-in-the-Wo...

I thought this was an interesting article. It's posted here rather than the feminism forum as while I thought it was interesting enough to warrant discussion, I've been asked not to post in the feminism forum, and gender falls under the humanities.

The writer starts with a discussion of the statistics, shows that the previous trickle of improvement has been replaced by a decline (surprising to me), and then discusses some of the potential causes. Unfortunately, this last piece is probably weakest as she admits it was nearly impossible to get people to talk to her. As such her impressions will be biased to that self-selecting sample of people who grudgingly gave her their opinions. Just to clarify, I don't think it's weak as in false, I just suspect it's incomplete. It's obviously a non-trivial problem in sociology and statistics to identify what is causing the recent setbacks, what is causing the overall salary rescaling, and whether these factors are the same or distinct.

The writer mentions the fact the examples of the most successful women seem to act like men, and that since women in high places shrug off femininity it makes it harder for women in lower places to advance. That seems contrived to me but then again she's discussing the internal sociologies of [b]Big Bank[/b] and [b]Big Law[/b] so of course it's contrived.

She also mentioned the possibility from comments that women view things in a more equal framework, and men are more competitive and hierachial. Sounds somewhat familiar. As an example, when I was in a male-dominated academic group, I knew almost everybody's grades. Now, in a (sort of) female-dominated group, I don't and I'm afraid to ask. It would be a serious social faux-pas to make numerical comparisons. I still make estimates in my head however. I don't just wanna be [i]good[/i], I'd like to be [i]better[/i].

[ 19 March 2008: Message edited by: 500_Apples ]

remind remind's picture

quote:


Originally posted by 500_Apples:
[b]I thought this was an interesting article. It's posted here rather than the feminism forum as while I thought it was interesting enough to warrant discussion, I've been asked not to post in the feminism forum, and gender falls under the humanities.[/b]

Will let the moderators decide on where this thread should be, as usually when one is banned from the feminist forum, it does mean the person banned gets to start topics elsewhere pertaining to what one was banned from participating in. A backdoor way in if you will, but again is up to the moderators to decide.

Having said that I do not believe your depiction of what the article was/is saying is accurate in several areas. Most notable was this commentary of yours:

quote:

The writer mentions the fact the examples of the most successful women seem to act like men, and that since women in high places shrug off femininity it makes it harder for women in lower places to advance.

Please do quote the snippet from the article where you found this said, or alluded to, as I could not find any such reference.

Nor will I go into the negative slanting of women that permiates your post.

martin dufresne

[b]

quote:

...I don't just wanna be good, I'd like to be better.

[/b] Being conscious of the pattern is a start. Understanding it as a problem would be the next step. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] Not trying to play women one against the other might help your focus. (Just suggestions, you understand...)

[ 19 March 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

500_Apples

quote:


Originally posted by martin dufresne:
[b][b] [/b] Being conscious of the pattern is a start. Understanding it as a problem would be the next step. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img] Not trying to play women one against the other might help your focus. (Just suggestions, you understand...)[/b]

Hi Martin,

I'm not convinced having a competitive mentality is a "problem", or maybe I didn't understand what you meant. Would you be willing to elaborate?

What did you think of the article?

martin dufresne

Consider the difference between 1) to "be better", which I think is excellent, self-improvement, self-understanding and moving past one's limits and faults; and 2) striving at "being better than other folks" - what is achieved by making every one else's grades public.
I think the latter is really meaningless since it is utterly dependent on the others' level. What if they are mediocre or worsening? Even in an allegedly "competitive" situation, you can have the illusion you are getting better when in fact merely spinning your wheels or falling back along with the group, if at a lesser rate.
I think there are better ways than numerical comparisons and competition to achieve excellence and improvement in a community, and devolving a traditionally male King-of-the-Hill perspective is a good lead in that direction. In that sense, you should count yourself lucky to have happened on a "sort of" female-dominated field.

As for the article, sorry but I haven't opened the link. Too little time, and your summary of it was enough to dissuade me from looking into a piece that appears not to deconstruct "femininity" and "masculinity," as I want and need to do in my work.
I am very concerned about the reduction in women's salaries and job access, but I resist blaming women for this as the author seems to do, according to your summary.
It seems to me that sloppy studies - not enough respondents, no control groups, haphazard concepts - are of little help in achieving gender justice... even if they get good press because of their sensationalist value, achieved by appealing to victim-blaming memes.

[ 20 March 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]

500_Apples

quote:


Originally posted by martin dufresne:
[b]Consider the difference between 1) to "be better", which I think is excellent, self-improvement, self-understanding and moving past one's limits and faults; and 2) striving at "being better than other folks" - what is achieved by making every one else's grades public.
I think the latter is really meaningless since it is utterly dependent on the others' level. What if they are mediocre or worsening? Even in an allegedly "competitive" situation, you can have the illusion you are getting better when in fact merely spinning your wheels or falling back along with the group, if at a lesser rate.
I think there are better ways than numerical comparisons and competition to achieve excellence and improvement in a community, and devolving a traditionally male King-of-the-Hill perspective is a good lead in that direction. In that sense, you should count yourself lucky to have happened on a "sort of" female-dominated field.

As for the article, sorry but I haven't opened the link. Too little time, and your summary of it was enough to dissuade me from looking into a piece that appears not to deconstruct "femininity" and "masculinity," as I want and need to do in my work.
I am very concerned about the reduction in women's salaries and job access, but I resist blaming women for this as the author seems to do, according to your summary.
It seems to me that sloppy studies - not enough respondents, no control groups, haphazard concepts - are of little help in achieving gender justice... even if they get good press because of their sensationalist value, achieved by appealing to victim-blaming memes.

[ 20 March 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ][/b]


Fair enough, couple points on things I may have miscommunicated,

1) I'm not in a female-dominated field though it may be one in twenty years due to the changing interests of undergraduate students. It's just local statistical variance. What is ~30% on average will still range between 0 and 100%, theoretically.

2) I see what you mean by competitiveness, you're drawing a distinction between relative merit and intrinsic merit. It's a valid one in a lot of cases. There's a few cases where it won't be valid, such as in the awarding of scholarships, grants, prizes, and ultimately, jobs. Also, competing is... [i[fun[/i]???

3) With respect to the article, I may have misinterpreted it, that was part of what Remind's post, so please don't hold a negative perception of writer Harriet Rubin. Though I'll stand by one of my main points, that it is unfortunately incomplete since as she said almost nobody was willing to respond to her.

[ 20 March 2008: Message edited by: 500_Apples ]

martin dufresne

quote:


500_Apples: ...competing is... [i[fun[/i]???

So is competing against your past performance - and no one has to feel put down or dominant.
Re: intrinsic/relative, I really feel that all merit is relative; but when it isn't reified and reduced to your marks against theirs, you avoid the risk of comparing yourself to... 500 Oranges! [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 20 March 2008: Message edited by: martin dufresne ]