Why don’t we respect women?
Apparently, when women enter the corporate world they discover that they do not like it. They discover that they do not want to have the lives they would have if they want to make it to the top.
They want more time with their children and they discover that the higher they rise on the corporate hierarchy the more they are owned by their jobs.
Should we not respect their wishes and their choices? If they do not wish to make it into the executive suite, that is, after all, their prerogative.
It has nothing to do with their inability to lean in.
Women are simply not comfortable doing what needs to be done to be promoted in a male-dominant status hierarchy.
I am sure that you are not surprised.
And I am sure that you accept that women should be respected for wishing to have the kinds of lives that they want to have and for being the kinds of people they want to be.
New York Magazine reports the story:
[A] Bain & Company survey of men and women in the workplace… found that women and men were equally ambitious when they had fewer than two years on the job. But those ambitions changed dramatically among mid-career employees. Women's aspiration to make it to the C-suite dropped 60 percent. Their confidence in their ability to reach top management drops in half. And their ambition never recovers as they become senior leaders within their firms. Men, on the other hand, see a much smaller dip in their confidence, and none in their ambition.
Why is this so?
New York answers:
The question is why, and the survey has some disquieting answers. Here is part of one woman's response to the survey questions:
Watching middle-aged white male after middle-age white male tell their war stories of sacrificing everything to close the sale was demoralizing, I just kept sinking lower in my chair and thinking that I would never be able to make it to the senior ranks if this was what it took.
Another woman responded that “top-level execs are ‘on’ 24/7 and that is not appealing at all.” Another said she did not want “to trade my personal life” for professional success. Many women also reported that their managers were not supportive of their careers.
The idea is that many women simply do not see themselves as fitting the model of success at their respective firms: They get the message that there's a type of person who's successful, and they aren't it. That's borne out with tons of data. About 40 percent of new women on the job say "I see myself fitting into the typical stereotypes of success within my company." Only 25 percent of experienced women say the same.
You might say that this merely shows that men and women are different and that efforts to make women into ersatz men have failed. It does not mean that women should not work or have careers. It does suggest that they would rather not follow a career path that is more congenial to estrogen-deficient beings.
It will not come as news, but businesses compete against other businesses. If the male model does not work as well as another model, it is in the best interest of all involved to change the way their model.
One suspects that, in the crucible of competition, businesses evolved in the direction of the greatest efficiency and effectiveness.
Heck, even the young tech firms in Silicon Valley are as male dominant as any other businesses. In fact, they are more male dominant than many other businesses.
This is not the way New York Magazine sees things. It suggested, in the article's title, that corporations are in the business of crushing women's ambitions.
The magazine does not consider that women might have a change of heart or a change of mind once they enter the corporate world. They might discover that their ambitions are more varied and less single-minded than are those of men.
This is not the way that Bain sees things. It concludes that if women do not like corporate cultures, the solution is to change corporate cultures.
The article explains:
The [Bain] study concludes that the workplaces in question are failing to provide women with role models and failing to encourage them, and it has a number of suggestions for improving corporate culture to retain female talent. Providing women with role models and mentors, and rewarding employees with nontraditional work schedules and career trajectories might be a good place to start, they argue.
A lot of companies could go much further than that, though: allowing for more flexible work schedules, encouraging people to actually use those flexible work schedules, and celebrating people who succeed using those flexible work schedules. That would especially help women aiming for the C-suite while dealing with a family at home. This Bain study did not find meaningful differences in the responses of women with kids and without. But many other studies have.
Need we say, any company that wishes to implement such policies should do so. It will find out whether they improve the company environment and the bottom line. If it produces more profit and happier employees, this would demonstrate Bain’s point.
If, however, the new woman-friendly policies turn out to be man-unfriendly, corporate harmony and cooperation might suffer. Again, companies are at liberty to take such risks.
After all, it is difficult to have two different genders working according to different rules and still respecting each other.
Finally, we must wonder why Bain, a consulting firm, has produced a report that seems more clearly geared to actualizing a feminist dream than improving company performance.