Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Gender Parity: The Impossible Dream

In principle, management consultants help businesses run better and more efficiently. And yet, one of the leading consulting firms, Bain and Co. did a report last year about something that has never been shown to improve business. That would be: gender parity.

One suspects that Bain did not do this because it thought that gender parity was the way to increased corporate profitability and a more effective business. It seems to have done this because its collective mind had been hijacked by ideologues who believed that if American businesses do not have gender parity at all levels they are bigoted. Or something.

And you thought that this kind of nonsense was endemic to America’s colleges.

Obviously enough, any company that wants to make gender parity its policy is free to do so. Then, the market will decide and we will not have to spend any more time reading specious studies.

Be that as it may, the great minds of Bain had remarked that as a woman advances in her career, her confidence plummets. After five years on the job a woman will be far less likely to want to advance to senior management.

To the ideologues at Bain, this is a problem. And yet, for all we know, it may be the result of intelligent capable women making a free choice about how they want to live their lives. Apparently, those whose minds have been addled by ideology have no concern for and no respect for the free choices that women might make. That is the real story here.

Here Bain summarizes its research results:

Women embark on careers with high expectations and aspirations for advancement, but this confidence evaporates as they enter mid-career. A new Bain & Company study of 1,000 men and women spread across a wide spectrum of ages and career levels, Everyday Moments of Truth, found that nearly half of all new women employees aspire to top management but, within five years, only 16 percent still hold that ambition; this compared with 34 percent of men who begin their careers confident they will reach the top and remain so after two or more years of experience.

After a few years in the real world of real work, most women, to their great credit, come to see that their women’s studies professors were lying to them. They revise their expectations and their life plans. No one should be surprised and no one should take offense. Everyone should use this information to discard the absurd and unrealistic notion of gender parity.

Most people who know anything about women understand that the large majority of women are drawn toward marriage and family and home. Most women prefer to have more flexible work schedules in order to spend more time with young children.

Bain has chosen to ignore this rather important reality:

Bain’s research refutes the commonly held belief that marriage or starting a family is responsible for side-tracking women when it comes to career advancement.  The study found that marital and parental status does not significantly differ between women who aspire and those who do not.  Instead, Bain suggests that women lack meaningful recognition and support from managers during the mid-level career period, when women crystalize their aspirations and build – or erode – their confidence.

Let’s see, you believe that young women being questioned by survey takers from within their company are likely to be perfectly honest about their plans. And even if they are being perfectly honest you are assuming that they know exactly what they want.

One survey does not revise human nature. It is not news and should not be doubted, but the vast majority of women do want to be married and to have children. Some women do not. One suspects that they are more involved in their careers and more devoted to their jobs.

The issue is not so much that you cannot get to the executive suite by having work/life balance. It’s that most women, once they discover what they would need to do to get there, decide that they do not want to do so. They believe that the extra time with a child is more valuable than the extra time on the job.

One hastens to add that management consulting is notorious for demanding a great deal of travel. Bain employees who are working for a company in St. Louis will need to move to St. Louis and to live there for an extended period of time. They will become part of the company and will only be able to return to home base on weekends, if that.

If you imagine that a women can have a home and a family, be responsible for bringing up her children and maintain a good relationship with her husband while commuting to Middle America you are dreaming.

More importantly, and as everyone knows, the kind of woman who is consumed by ambition and who aspires to scale the corporate hierarchy is not the kind of woman a man would want to marry. Worse yet, she is not the kind of woman the man’s mother wants him to marry.

Of course, Bain believes that new company policies and better communication can solve the problem. It does not consider the fact that there is no problem. It has invented a problem because feminism has created the illusion that gender parity was not only desirable but a good thing.

This dream is impossible because women do not want it. It is well enough known that a woman who gains power on a male status hierarchy will become less attractive to men while a man who does the same will become more attractive to women. Think of the Clintons. How many women were lusting after Bill Clinton? How many men are lusting after Hillary Clinton? How many young women would want Hillary Clinton’s marriage?

When a woman begins her career she will normally look at the lives of the women who have gotten ahead in the company. And she might say to herself that she does not want their lives and does not want to become like them. Even if a woman in senior management is respected as a corporate leader, she might well be disparaged for lacking other qualities that matter to women. The notion that this is all going to be solved by having more women role models is also an illusion. Do you believe that more Hillary Clintons are going to make young women more desirous of a high powered corporate career, especially when coupled with a husband who is a chronic philanderer?

How is it possible that this reality has escaped the zealots at Bain?

Gender parity is impossible as long as women can choose freely how they want to live their lives. It’s as simple as that. Most women do not want to live as though they were ersatz men. They have noticed that if they follow the mindless dictum of Gloria Steinem and become the men they want to marry that the men they want to marry will not want to marry them.

Gender parity sounds good if you do not believe that there are any significant differences between men and women. By failing to understand these basic differences, by looking at the world through the distorted lens of feminist ideology, by imagining that if you can think gender parity you can achieve it, the venerable firm of Bain and Co. has not made itself look very good.


Ares Olympus said...

If we must, all sensible people would say the goal ought to be "gender parity in opportunity" rather than "gender parity in results", right?

So if you find 10% of men are ambitious enough for top management, AND it takes 30 years of 60 hour weeks to climb that latter, that would seem to preclude motherhood for women, but the world does seem to have plenty of people.

In fact there's only one person with a PhD in my family, a woman and a research scientist in biochemistry, she didn't want children, although I don't know her managerial ambitions.

Anyway if 10% of women are just as ambitious AND willing to remain childless, you'd hope they have the opportunity to prove themselves.

It will be interesting to see if Hillary actually is elected president. It looks like she's got the crazy uncle Bernie properly boxed in as "too progressive", so maybe ambitious women can rise to the top after motherhood, as grandmothers.

I don't know if Hillary thinks women can "have it all", or if she advocate that. It is a curious thing for anyone to imagine they could be president.

My 11th grade history teacher joked women's right to vote in 1920 helped get Warren Harding elected in 1920 and got us the Teapot Dome scandal, perhaps our first big time Executive Order president?

There are still people today, men and women, who think it was a mistake to give women the right to vote. I suppose if Hillary was elected just in time for the second great depression, that might stain all women's chances to become president for a long time.

Maybe women will feel so humiliated at Hillary's incompetence that they'll give up their suffrage and let men decide from now on? Could we yet reverse the 19th amendment? Maybe after we reverse Roe vs Wade?

Oh, we can imagine so much fun, to explain why women should go back home and make babies for us men so we can run the world in peace.

David Foster said...

There is no field more brutally demanding of the days and hours of an individual's life than big-time law. A very hard-working CEO of my acquaintance was truly horrified to learn that his outside counsel (female, btw) was fairly often in the office at 3 AM.

Yet my perception is that there are a fairly high % of women climbing the partnership ladder at major law firms.

JP said...

"There is no field more brutally demanding of the days and hours of an individual's life than big-time law. A very hard-working CEO of my acquaintance was truly horrified to learn that his outside counsel (female, btw) was fairly often in the office at 3 AM."

He's not exactly getting the highest quality legal counsel, then.

Chronic sleep deprivation will result in significant cognitive dysfunction.

Larry Sheldon said...

Clearly I do not have the academic credentials and licenses to steal money to justify having an opinion, but I will report that more than thirty years at Pacific Telephone and Creighton University as a technical manager convince me that if you used a text editor and replaced every occurrence of "woman", "women", "her" or "she" with the appropriate grammatical construct of "affirmative action beneficiary" you would be able to see clearly what is going on here.

KCFleming said...

Great analysis by Stuart.
The leftist religion detests reality. Reality is wrong. What people want is wrong.
They should want what the leftists tell them to want.

Like their inability to see the inevitable consequences of their errors, they cannot see that never in human history has ignoring basic human realities succeeded.

It's so stupid it's maddening.