Join In Her Image on Facebook!

Julia Barry's Facebook profile

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

After all this time, is acting 'like a man' still the most powerful thing a woman can do?

Today I attended the stellar Women Who Tech TeleSummit.  (Thanks coordinators, speakers, and sponsors who helped make it cheap enough to go to!)

The panel that gave me the most food for thought was called "Self Promotion: Is This Really a Rant About Gender?"  The main question, riffing off of the debate stirred up by Clay Shirky's article, "A Rant About Women," was: "Is it necessary to be a self-aggrandizing jerk to get ahead?"

So yeah.  Some questions that were debated were:  What does it mean to get ahead?  What's the difference between aggression and assertiveness?  How do you handle the double standard wherein men can act 10 times as aggressive as women while women get called a "bitch" when they act confident and powerful?  How can we change the standards on both the supply and demand sides?

One conclusion of the panel I found particularly salient and helpful was that when people moan about sexism and double standards, the retort "stop blaming men" makes no sense.  Demanding diversity on panels, at schools, in work places (minorities as well) is not a way of blaming men, but a way to improve the quality of, well, everything, by widening the pool of excellent candidates.  It was also pointed out that creating systems that invite women and people of color does not "lower standards" (I can't even believe how prejudiced a comment that is, but it's a common repsonse!), but rather acknowledges and addresses the issue that there are a bajillion qualified people out there, yet usually the white, male, "jerks" (to use Clay Shirky's word) are the ones viewed as successful and enjoying that so-called success.

As a result of all of this, I revisited Deanna Zandt's post, "Shirky to women: ur doin it wrong."  Definitely worth checking out her articulate post, as well as the debate that went on in the comments.  The blogosphere firestorm stirred up by Shirky's article may have subsided, but these issues are far from solved, so this is all certainly worth a read, a think, a comment, a talk with a friend about over coffee.  Who knows, it might even inspire you to hire a different employee, stick up for someone in the classroom, or go after what you think you deserve.  (For the record, I *do* think you can do that without being a self-aggrandizing jerk, a quality of modern masculinity that I hope we can all grow out of someday.)

No comments:

Post a Comment