Thursday, February 28, 2019

The Case of the Left-Out Woman

Call it the perils of #MeToo. The sole woman working in a financial services firm office is being excluded from hanging out with the men in the office. She is being treated as toxic, as radioactive. The men do not invite her to lunch and presumably not to their get togethers. If they were to have lunch with her, this would change the dynamic appreciably. They would have to watch what they say. They would not be bonding. They would be walking on egg shells. 

What should she do? Aside from writing a thank-you note to the proponents of #MeToo.

She has written to behavioral economist Dan Ariely, someone whose august scientific credentials do not seem to give him any special wisdom about these circumstances. It goes to show you that you should not take advice from behavioral economists.

The letter goes thusly:

I work in investment banking in a firm where 90% of the employees are men. I’m the only woman on my team, and ever since I joined, my teammates have treated me like the office plant. They make lunch plans without including me, they say hello and goodbye to everyone except me; generally, they pretend I don’t exist. I don’t think they are doing it to be hurtful—I just think they’re not sure how to befriend women. What can I do to change this? —Jamie

As is to be expected, Ariely does not understand the situation. So he cheerfully invites her to try to break up group solidarity by picking off the men, one at a time.

He writes:

Social isolation is difficult and painful, and I’m very sorry about your experience. Sadly, it is difficult to change the social norms of an entire group at once. An easier path would be to change the behavior of one colleague at a time; direct interactions will help them to see you as a whole person. Why don’t you try to invite one of your co-workers for coffee or lunch every week? In time, this will change the overall atmosphere in the office.

Note the effusion of empathy. He feels her pain. Probably, he doesn’t, but in the current cultural climate, you must say that you do. As noted above he has no understanding of the issues in play.

Of course, he has no clue about the social dynamics, but he does understand that she is a “whole person.” This is arrant stupidity. She is being treated as a woman because she is a woman. There is no such thing as a whole person—how many people do you know who are half a person?

And Ariely does not understand that he is recommending that she appear to break up the group dynamic. This is not going to make her any friends. Besides, you do not need to be a world renowned behavioral economist to understand that if she asks one of the men to go out to lunch or dinner… he might very well see it as an invitation to go on a date. And that he will be spending long hours with the guys at the bar laughing at her presumption. If you do not understand this, you have no insight into the situation.

The obvious solution is to seek a new job. The less obvious solution is for her to do a great job. We know nothing about her position, her responsibilities or her capabilities. Could it be that she was a diversity hire... and that she does not know what she is doing?

She should not worry about lunch. She should look as though she is too busy to do anything but to eat at her desk. She should also try to contribute to the work that her colleagues are doing. This might involve sharing some information about a company someone is researching. This might include asking for assistance on a project she does not quite grasp. If she shares an office with one or two people she might bring some extra breakfast donuts to share with her office mates. If she is working on an open floor with a dozen people, such a gesture would be excessive and would bespeak desperation.

Of course, if her colleagues do not say hello and goodbye to her, nothing in the world prevents her from saying hello and goodbye to them... cordially, courteously, regardless of their response. And to call them by their first names. She should make it a daily habit, no matter what. 

One thing she should not do is to ask a behavioral economist how to solve her problem.


trigger warning said...

Aside from the charming naiveté involved in asking Dan Ariely about anything, this post reminds me of an earlier post discussing a hankie-twisting article by a female columnist about post-#metoo shunning, and her statement "Men just have to step up."

Clearly, they don't. :-D

That aside, there's no reason to believe this woman is not a blazing ***hole, and, given the rather thorough shunning she claims to be experiencing, plenty of reason to believe she is.

Anonymous said...

When experience tells you that if your damned if you do and damned if you don't the best approach is to not trust any woman, you are not related to and even there it can be iffy. This becomes especially true if this woman has a current degree from any institution of supposed higher learning. There is a good chance that "Women's Studies, misandry, is a significant part of her degree.
As the old sage once posited, "Better to be safe than sorry." The numpties are a considerable portion of any faculty. There used to be a word that perfectly defined them, "Educated Idiots."

Sam L. said...

"trigger warning said...

Aside from the charming naiveté involved in asking Dan Ariely about anything, this post reminds me of an earlier post discussing a hankie-twisting article by a female columnist about post-#metoo shunning, and her statement "Men just have to step up."

Clearly, they don't. :-D"

Not to mention, are the men married? Regardless, I suspect they all see her as surrounded by signs saying "ACHTUNG! MINEN1", because it is not safe to think otherwise.

I agree with Anon.

This is the result of Feminists. How many of them will become "old maids"; bitter old maids.

UbuMaccabee said...

I have a long list of the women at my dept who are not to be invited. They are uninvited because they have no sense of honor and have ideological blinders that they acquired at college. Ideas have consequences.

Anonymous said...


There is a word I have rarely heard applied to women. History is replete with honorable men, but few women who might be considered honorable. Have you ever wondered why that seems to be so?
One would have to ignore most of current history to not know the answer to this question. Reading much of the commentary written by Stuart demonstrates what many of us have learned in life. Honor does not seem to be in the attribute that large numbers of women possess. Women's Studies just enlarge this case. Sadly we have so much to give to each other, but women have traded true happiness for depression and the thrill of being their own truth.

UbuMaccabee said...

Anon, I was listening to Alison Armstrong podcast last summer (I consider her one of the best observers of the differences between man and women) and she noted rather dryly that women do not have a sense of honor as men understand it. My wife, who was listening, went bananas, but I though Alison was spot on. Honor is primarily, if not exclusively, a male construction, and few women have any idea what it means or entails. My wife was life-long military, and daddy's girl to a Colonel in the US Army, so she has absorbed quite a bit of the concept growing up. But I think the argument is valid and it is why I generally do not entrust women with any personal information: all it takes is for them to indulge an emotional frenzy and they will drive through any degree of cognitive dissonance to justify betraying my trust in them to satisfy the higher truth of their emotional moment. And I have nothing to appeal to. Honor is simply not hard-wired into their OS.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Of course, there's honor and then there's honor. In the past, people would often speak about a woman's honor... but it was not the same kind of honor as a man's honor.

Anonymous said...

The question is whether modern women possess even what in the past would be called a Woman's honor? Simply put NO! As IUbu intimates, and many men have learned the hard way, NEVER TRUST A WOMAN! If a woman can kill her own children, at later and later dates even including after birth, then they can eventually justify killing on a more encompassing basis. It does appear that Kali is resurgent.
Has anyone noticed that most of the SJWs, haters, et al., are women? One might suspect that "The Abolition of Man" was prophetic.