True or not, it’s almost universally acknowledged that women trump men in softer social skills. Although, I struggle to recall when a top, male executive was praised in the media for his likeability. This perception that women possess these apparently natural social skills increasingly seems to work to their advantage. This cliché played out deliciously in a satirical blog post on Jezebel.com, which asked “Is America ready for a white, male Secretary of State?” The piece suggested that only a woman could possess the intuition and emotional intelligence necessary for such a demanding job.
Tag: "Globe and Mail"
The story of a powerful male leader who sleeps with a subordinate never fails to titillate the masses. There seems to be a pre-existing template for how this narrative normally plays out, particularly in the media. An innocuous artifact, in Petraeus’s case an email, triggers a chain reaction that quickly unravels, forcing the female lead into role of home-wrecker or lady scorned. The male protagonist often comes across as tragically flawed or an egomaniac who lives by his own rules. Since an extra-marital affair in our current social context translates into an error of judgment, the ending inevitably includes public humiliation and resignation. This narrative needs to change.
Lately, I fantasize about taking a holiday. Not a destination holiday – those are hardly relaxing now that my Android phone and iPad accompany me everywhere — but a digital one. I crave a break where I can go for a substantial amount of time, say an hour or two, without checking one of my many digital devices. It’s more complicated than it sounds since I’ve been sleeping with my iPad for over a year. Before that, my BlackBerry never left my side.
As a society, we sometimes extol the virtues of soul destroying corporate culture. Think The Devil Wears Prada – the glamour of working for Meryl’s Streep’s character appeared to outweigh the professional masochism. Even in the first few pages of Greg Smith’s Why I left Goldman Sachs, he writes admiringly of the hazing-style meetings that often left interns in tears. While a flashy job title with a lucrative paycheck can serve as a siren’s all to many, especially in a challenging economy, there are good reasons to resist temptation and focus on a company’s culture.
The Internet is anything but forgiving and the now infamous Mitt Romney gaffe from the second presidential debate where he referred to “binders full of women” provided endless fodder for the social media set. But now that we’ve all had a good laugh and creatively expressed our indignation, its time to move past Romney’s poorly worded defense of how he advocated for women before the meme eclipses the underlying social issue: How can we move past our reliance on “binders”.
I started recognizing other habits that women, including me, use when communicating digitally such as multiple exclamation marks and closing off emails with overly touching language. There appears to be a need to go to great lengths to ensure that we come across softly, even in a professional setting. If “language is power,” as the British novelist Angela Carter once said, then what do these smiley faces say about us?
It dawned on me that I wanted to be the perfect mom and perfect employee and I’m not. I’m OK with that. At least, I’m trying to be. Sure, the particulars of an important conversation may keep me awake at night and a typo may set off a stream of self-berating, internal dialogue. But this assumption that every part of our life, from work to kids to our homes, must remain impeccable dooms us to constant disappointment. Isn’t it time we kicked the perfectionism habit?
Women now place greater importance on a higher paying career than men and surpass men in college enrollment and completion, according to a Pew study. Contributing to this argument with frightening implications, a recent story in Slate magazine illustrated the lengths to which some families will go to conceive a daughter. The days where having a son meant a promise of a secure future for parents appears to have evaporated, like the rotary phone.
Want an easy way to break the summer doldrums at work? Launch into a discussion arguing the validity of the gender wage gap. Few workplace issues remain the verbal equivalent of throwing a grenade into a room and a recent opinion piece published on Bloomberg threatened to do just that. Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor for the National Review called the wage gap a “staple of feminist rhetoric” and an exaggerated issue that is not the result of discrimination, suggesting that government shouldn’t even try to eliminate it.
As a card-holding member of Generation X, I adopted an early disdain for temporary work, often equating it in my mind with the McJobs popularized in Douglas Coupland quintessential book. But with the changing economic climate – one that waves goodbye to the notion of long-term job security and loyalty – temporary work has gradually become normalized.